Friday, 24 December 2010

Listasaurus: The Top 20 Songs of 2010: 05-01

Oh wow. Here we go. It's Christmas Eve and snow is falling neck breaking amounts of sludge are everywhere. As I walk the streets of this humdrum town I can see families huddled around computer screens. What are they looking at? What can unite all these people like this? Oh cot damn. It's my twitter feed and they are all waiting for a tweet to say that this blog post is up. Happy holidays.

05 Rihanna - 'Only Girl (In The World)'

" my prisoner for the night."

I'd say the same thing about Gaga but I'm really thankful Rihanna is around. You know by now that pop stars of her magnitude are unavoidable in everyday life. Regardless of your age, gender or anything else you will be hearing songs by artists like Rihanna on approximately a thrice daily basis. In the launderette, in the bakery, on the car radio on the way to work, from the annoying girl singing in the office. Rihanna and Gaga, though, are different to the rest. Why? Well, I find them both genuinely interesting for one. I find a vast majority of their music really very listenable for two. Perhaps you could say that this has more to do with the people behind the scenes than the actual artists themselves and perhaps you could be right. I'll tell you one thing about that though, I don't really care either way.

'Only Girl (In The World)' initially sounded like a bit of a cash in on this recent R&B/dance crossover trend. Originally, I heard it two or three times and dismissed it as a bit of a dissapointment and got on with my life. However, as the days and weeks rolled on and I kept hearing the song through my own choosing or otherwise, I started to dig it more and more with each listen. As always with Rihanna, the song is shot through with a high voltage sexiness but its a sexiness that is edged with some yearning and some real innocence. It's like reading the diary of the hottest girl at school and finding out that she's got it bad for some kid that couldn't give a shit about her. Something like that anyway. Either way, it's fantastic.

04 Freddie Gibbs - 'National Anthem (Fuck The World)'

"All my shit still be bumpin'..."

Aside from the song at #02 in this list, this is my most played rap song of the year and it takes few listens to work out why. Gibbs really works with LA Riots' beat here so much so that you really cannot imagine them as divided entities. The way in which he slows down to a thug crawl for that chorus and shifts up to a blinding Twista speed for his verses really is spellbinding. As is often the way, Gibbs has really been through a lot in his short life but it's moments like this that make you thankful he came out the other side.

Freddie Gibbs has a lot of material out there. He's a mixtape fiend and filtering this slew of content down to its rawest and purest form can be difficult. I mean, where to start? Well, the easy answer to that is to start with "National Anthem...," because this isn't just Freddie Gibbs' best track, it's one of the best rap tracks of the year. Perhaps more importantly, it marks Gibbs out as a true contender and one to watch very closely come 2011 and beyond.

03 Laura Marling - 'Goodbye England (Covered in Snow)'

"True love is frail and willing to break..."

I posted about Laura Marling earlier in the year when 'I Speak Because I Can' was first released. Back then, I was reeling at how good that album was and how amazing it is that Marling is 20 years old or whatever. Since then I've listened to ISBIC and more specifically 'Goodbye England...' many, many times and with each listen I've realised how irrelevant it is what age Laura Marling is. This is a song that just sounds completely classic. It could've been released at any time over the past fifty years, it really doesn't matter.

Marling has written a song that reads as well as it sounds. It could be read to you as a poem and you'd have nothing to say other than to praise its beauty. You've probably never read a sentence that includes both Freddie Gibbs and Laura Marling before but much like that guy at #04, it's songs like this that mark Marling out as a different breed to her competitors.

There's nothing I like more than being surprised and at no point in the past did I think Laura Marling had a song this good in her. It's simply beautiful and I have my hand on my heart when I say this placing is in no way influenced by it being Christmas nor snow falling in and around this country that Laura and I were born in.

02 Kanye West - 'Monster'

"The best living or dead hands down, huh?"

Who on earth saw this coming? C'mon, hands up. Naw, me neither. When Kanye launched back into the world with his weekly G.O.O.D Friday series no one really knew what to expect. What I didn't foresee was the actual content of these free, weekly released, songs. Firstly, the vast majority of them were pure fire and secondly, the guests Kanye roped in weren't just session musicians or anything, it was stellar major players of (mainly) the rap game. I'm talking Jay-Z, Lupe, Common, Mos Def, Pusha T here. Some of these GF tracks (albeit reworked versions) were later used for 'My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy' and 'Monster' was one of these. It's just too undeniable to be left as anything else.

It's a difficult track to describe to someone without them listening to it as you do. The basics are that it features Rick Ross, Kanye, Jay-Z, Nicki Minaj and Bon Iver (!). Other than that, the shit's plain ridiculous. Kanye quite typically came up with an entirely untypical beat that jumps all over the place and the rest is down to the respective artists and their verses. Ross is on damage control and only gets a couple of bars (how he is best used) and Kanye's swagger is set on ultra high. Jay-Z's verse I don't actually like very much at all but abide for one reason - it sets up Nicki Minaj to stomp through and rip everyone's balls off. Nicki's verse is my musical moment of the year. It's all crazy voices chasing a beat that just doesn't know where its going to go next. She sounds like Godzilla wearing skyscrapers for stilettos. Her verse forms part of a song that is quite simply, if you'll excuse my language, a motherfuckin' monster.

01 The Walkmen - 'Angela Surf City'

"You took the high road..."

I've hinted at how much I adore this song at several separate occasions this year. This adoration was cemented when I got to witness it performed live last month and it did not dissapoint in any way. This one, dear reader, soars.

The Walkmen never get their dues. They do the rounds, tour incessantly and for an indie band in 2010, are pretty prolific too. Even then, I don't feel they get half the press they deserve. For me, they should be spoke about as loftily as The National are. Now I'm aware that The National aren't exactly U2 but even so, there's a big difference in between being in that band and being a member of The Walkmen. Album sales, gig revenues, merchandise. It all counts in a pretty important way. The reasons why I dig this band so much are right there, a mile high, for all to see in 'Angela Surf City'.

To get the obvious out of the way first, they're incredible musicians and if you can't hear that in this song then you're either an idiot or deaf. The most obvious example of their musicianship is the drumming. Always incessant yet strictly melodic, Matt Barrick could just be the best drummer around. It's clear that rest of The Walkmen know this and Barrick often finds himself at centre stage. 'Angela Surf City' kicks off with him rolling out a typical drum beat, for example.

The Walkmen's finest and most famous hour was a song called 'The Rat' which was released in 2004 to raptourous acclaim. Since then, it's often been a case of "yeah they're alright but they'll never top 'The Rat'..." and if the band we're honest up until the release of 'Lisbon' then they might've just agreed. 'Angela Surf City' changes all of that. It shows that 'The Rat' wasn't just a one off. It shows that its possible to go from sounding almost bored in an opening verse to launching into a chorus that's as unstoppable as a runaway train. It shows that you can really achieve something amazing in three minutes and nineteen seconds.

So, that's it. List over. Hope you all enjoyed reading, a spotify playlist of the complete list can be found here*. Have a good christmas and I hope next year is better than this year for all of you.

*some songs aren't on spotify. They've been substituted in a 'next best' sorta way apart from Jeezy and Arcade Fire who are just plain difficult and not on there at all.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Listasaurus: The Top 20 Songs of 2010: 08 - 06

We are now one post away from the top five. That's simple mathematics right there. If you can't work that out then you probably can't read anyway so this blog is completely lost on you. No, I don't do screen readers, braille or large font translations.

08. Arcade Fire - 'Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)

"I need the darkness someone please cut the lights..."

When it comes to indie releases in 2010, they didn't get much bigger than 'The Suburbs'. When it comes to disappointments in 2010, yeah, you can use the second half of that first sentence again. Again, my problems with 'The Suburbs' were much publicised on this blog and on my twitter but if there's one thing I couldn't be accused of, it's not trying enough. I gave that record listen after listen, hour after hour and it just never happened. Amazing if you consider that after hearing 'Funeral' and 'Neon Bible' I couldn't conceive of living my life without those records. They were just that big to me. Epic statements of heart, inspiration and perseverance they are albums that are now four and six years old respectively. They are albums I still listen to on a weekly basis. That says it all, I think.

My problems with 'The Suburbs' may have been plentiful but in 'Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)' I found a saving grace that knocked me off my feet and carried me away. It's a song that you swear you've heard before. It could be Kate Bush. It could be Blondie produced by The Knife. Whatever. It's the kind of song that makes mountains beyond mountains seem entirely surmountable.

07. Young Jeezy Ft. Plies - 'Lose My Mind'

"My house stupid dumb big, my rooms got rooms..."

My God this is a banger. There's no other way to put it. In many ways you can hold it up as the archetypal Young Jeezy song. By that I mean it's big, it's dumb and it smashes you in the face like a sledgehammer. As the lead single from the eagerly awaited 'Thug Motivation 103' 'Lose My Mind' did exactly what it was meant to. It banged and made you think "Man, that new Jeezy album is going to be some ridiculous shit." The only issue, OF COURSE, is that there is no sign of that album at the moment and the release date seems to change with the wind direction.

This is all to take nothing away from the song though. Clocking in at just under four minutes, Jeezy bosses his two verses just as we've come to take for granted whilst Plies spits his out like he's been chewing on concrete and barbed wire for the past coupla weeks. Plies is Plies, I'll give you absolutely nothing if you guess the content of his lines, let's put it that way. Again, God, this is a banger.

06. Robyn - 'Call Your Girlfriend'

"And then you let her down easy..."

Much like Drake, 2010 has been truly a year to remember for Robyn. In a year that saw her release two EPs and a full length, she is now reaping the rewards and also finds herself at the business end of just about everybody's end of year lists.

The biggest compliment I can pay to Robyn is that this song could've been one of about five. If I was intending to include more than one song per artist in this list then she would've had multiple entries. 'Indestructible', 'Hang With Me', 'Dancing On Your Own' and 'Cry When You Get Older' could all be substituted in place of this song I've chosen here quite easily. 'Call Your Girlfriend' is different though. It's simply the most mature, most accurate and incisively written pop song I've heard this year. In her first verse Robyn sings "Tell her not to get upset, second-guessing everything you said and done..." and man, that's a hell of a line. We've all been there haven't we? One thing goes wrong and there you are left wondering if the whole thing was a sham from day one. This is something Robyn does better than anyone. She can take minute details of life, of love, and she can retell them in these amazing songs so they sound anything but small. Oh, and all this to tunes you can dance to. The best way to put this is to say that, at the moment, there is no one making music who can soundtrack tears on a dance floor better than Robyn.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Listasaurus: The Top 20 Songs of 2010: 11 - 09

Computer has contracted a virus to end all viruses which has greatly impacted my ability to post on this blog and observe hardcore pornography. Yet, we journey on, in spite of all, we journey on.

11. Lady Gaga Ft. Beyonce - 'Telephone'

"Sometimes I feel like I live in Grand Central Station..."

Lady Gaga really understands the concept of the music single. She understands that singles were once real events. Memorable events that you could map your years and decades by. From a rough count I just conducted in my head I reckon she's head seven in this country now. Seven singles and each one stands as tall as the one that precedes it. It's quite a run and when 'Telephone' was released earlier in the year it was a run that you couldn't really ever see coming to an end.

From a song that starts so sweetly 'Telephone' has a hook so massive and so dirty it sounds like it turned your stereo up on its own. This hook is one of many aspects of this song that play exactly to Gaga's strengths and for me her main virtue is her voice. It's powerful and it works for these massively commercial singles that sell millions yet it still retains a lot of character. Give the tune a listen, she even eats Beyonce off the track and by and large, that isn't too easy to do.

Not a bad video either. 34,668,998 views* can't be wrong.

*and counting. Safely say I'm responsible for the 98.

10. Big Boi Ft. Gucci Mane - 'Shine Blockas'

"All the ladies say 'Hooooeeeee'..."

The second entry on my list that owes a lot to a great, great sample/beat. Here it's a sample of Howard Melvin's 'I Miss You'* that sets 'Shine Blockas' up to be a summer staple for years to come.

It's not a great leap to be reminded of 'International Players Anthem' when listening to this slab of southern magic because all the hallmarks that made that song so colossal are here too. This is a slick tune that just rolls and rolls and get this - even Gucci Mane can't ruin things. I think I've been pretty vocal with my opinions on Gucci but in case you missed them, I'll repeat briefly here. Yeah, I find him really boring. Still, on 'Shine Blockas' he really fits and I can't actually think of another rapper who could take his role here and do something better. For that, I say hats off Gucci Mane, hats off.

*Yes, I had to google it, hater.

And we move into single figures. The excitement is barely containable! This is as exciting as HTML code gets you worms. Show some love.

9. Big K.R.I.T - 'Hometown Hero'

"Not a day off but I'm still Ferris Bueller..."

Big K.R.I.T is the artist that got me more excited than any other this year. He sums up all I love about discovering new music and in this case, what I really dig about the internet too. I'd never heard of BK three months ago. I mean that too, never heard his name or anything about him. Then I started hearing things here and there online. The usual suspects saying that this guy was something special and the fact that Sha Money XL made him a top priority when he took up his Def Jam seat started to pique my interest. I downloaded the cleverly titled 'K.R.I.T Wuz Ere' and was astounded. The mixtape and debut album is as tight as anything I've heard this year in rap aside from Kanye's record and genuinely stands up with any debut I've heard in at least the past five years.

'Hometown Hero' samples Adele's 'Hometown' to great effect. That is, there's touches of it here and there. It's used when it needs to be used in a way that only adds to the song. It really is an ingenious piece of sample selection that does seem to come from way out in left field whilst B.K's vocal sounds like UGK at their most mournful and reflective.

The K.R.I.T stands for King Revealed In Time by the way. On the strength of his debut record and songs like this one, that title might turn out to be a pretty good prophecy come a few years down the line. King revealed.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Listasaurus: The Top 20 Songs of 2010: 14 - 12

The list continues apace. Three more pieces of solid gold.

14. Josh Ritter - 'The Curse'

She asks "Are you cursed?" He says "I think that I'm cured."

I still have a lot of time for good old fashioned songs and that's exactly what 'The Curse' is. It's nothing much really. There's little more than a repetitive piano piece, a lone trumpet and Ritter's well pronounced crystal clear vocal but it's truly a beautiful listen.

I'm not really sure what this song is about. Love, fame and ego perhaps. No one other than Josh Ritter can tell you that but since the release of 'So Runs The World Away' I've been really enjoying trying to decipher this one over and over again. Fantastic video too. The sort of video that you watch once and know that you will forever think about it when listening to the accompanying song in the future.

13. Drake - 'The Resistance'

"I'm living inside the moment, not taking pictures to save it."

I can really see why people dislike Drake. He's an actor, he's riding on Lil Wayne's coattails, he ain't 'real', some of his lines are just so goofy/hammy. Truly, I understand all that. 'Thank Me Later' though, is a record that I've returned to time and time again this year. I've come to the conclusion that (for a change) it's all down to those beats. Drake's long term bro 40 produced a fair chunk of 'Thank Me Later', including 'The Resistance', and it really is wonderfully done. That withdrawn almost isolated beat backs up Drake, who sounds as conversational as ever, fantastically well. It's barely there, I mean, you've really gotta listen out for it but what it does is just so vital.

Lyrically, Drake's got issues man, he doesn't know whether he's coming or going actually. He's carrying his city's weight like a cargo ship but he can't find the time to call his Gran who's just gone in the nursing home. That sort of thing. If you listen to the record you'll discover that finding this balance between blowing up yet staying 'normal' and a relatively decent man is a recurring theme and I dig that a lot actually.

2010 has been an enormous year for Drake with his debut album selling 447,000 copies in its first week and his profile going stratospheric but when success sounds like this, it's hard to begrudge.

12. The National - 'Afraid of Everyone'

"Your voice is swallowing my soul, soul, soul, soul."

The National stick to the 'write about what you know' maxim better than anyone else I can think of. Fears, worries, anxieties, doubts. The murky sides of the human condition, the things we'd all probably eradicate if we could, that's the bands bread and butter.

Since its release, I've gradually come round to the thinking that 'High Violet' is a record of two halves. The second of which ('Afraid of Everyone' onwards) is of such a high quality it's almost scary. In fact, if the first half was as good as the second, album of the year questions would be little more than foregone conclusions. Perhaps it's this consideration - that this song is the start of something amazing - that has assisted me in growing so fond of it. Either that or I've simply fallen in love with a very good song that reassures me that it's alright not to be so sure of everything all the time.

After listening to the song again a minute ago, I think its those ghostly backing melodies that do it for me. Strip them away and this'd probably sound a bit like a demo of a really great song. Leave them in and you have one of the best songs of the year.

Oh, you also definitely have the best outro of the year

All together now, Your voice is swallowing....

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Listasaurus: The Top 20 Songs of 2010: 17 - 15

Without further ado, songs 17 - 15 listed below. I must say writing a list like this certainly has a big influence on what you listen to as you write. Below a screen grab of my listening as I typed up songs 20 - 18 yesterday.
Variety is the spice of life.

17. Wild Nothing - 'Live In Dreams'

"I'd rather live in dreams and I'd rather die..."

Music really doesn't care for geographical boundaries. It happily spans oceans and continents touching all that it crosses on the way. Now, at some point during the 80s a few heavyweights (Cocteau Twins, The Cure even MBV) of the UK indie scene released some records that over time found their way to a guy called Jack Tatum in Virginia. Jack Tatum took this music, channeled his influences and started releasing music under the moniker of Wild Nothing and whilst its not strictly fair to say that 'Live In Dreams' and the rest of WN's fantastic debut, 'Gemini', is little more than a run down of what was good in Manchester in 1985, it does sound very much that way. That, of course, is completely a good thing.

I think people have been calling this sort of thing dream pop which sounds about right. Yet with that said, it's probably easier to just say that this song reminds you of times you can only just remember and bands you'll never forget.

16. Mavis Staples - 'You Are Not Alone'

"Every tear, on every face, tastes the same."

I'll be straight: I only sought out Mavis Staples' record 'You Are Not Alone' when I heard about Jeff Tweedy's involvement in it. There you are, I said it. Wilco are one of my favourite bands so when the lead singer lends himself to a project like Tweedy did with Staples, it's only natural that I'm going to check it out. I didn't know what to expect, I definitely didn't expect a song like 'You Are Not Alone'.

'You Are Not Alone' is as tender and warm is they come. It's a comforting song, it's the sort of song you listen to when you think the title is a complete and utter lie. If someone you cared about played you this song, you'd probably care for them a bit more afterwards. It's all of those things but one thing that struck me when I heard it was how much it sounded like a Wilco song. I mean no disrespect to Mavis Staples there and I know that Tweedy wrote it and played on it so it's not a surprise but shit, this would slot right into 'Sky Blue Sky'. Thing is, if Tweedy sang it you might think it was nice, pretty or whatever. When Staples sings it, you feel like you've known it your whole life.

15. Cee Lo Green - 'Fuck You'

"Now ain't that some shit?"

This song had to be included at some point, didn't it? 'Fuck You', quite simply, just works in every single way. It's so much fun, most people can relate to it and at some point everybody has found themselves singing it. It's all in the juxtapostion of those heartbroken jealous words vs the ludicrously joyous R&B, it's all in the "..and I'm like" that precedes each 'fuck you', it's all in that smile that crosses your face each time the chorus rolls back around.

I've not heard Cee Lo's new album but I'd be astounded if there's another song like 'Fuck You' on it. You know what though? Cee Lo Green made one of the best singles of the past decade and with this song he's made one of the best of this brand new one too so, well, fuck you.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Listasaurus: The Top 20 Songs of 2010: 20 - 18

There's a time and a place for clever, witty or lengthy post titles and this, I believe, is not it. Now, I've spent the past few weeks doing a couple of things:

a) Not posting on the blog. This is clear for all to see. I offer no excuses. "November spawned a monster..." Morrissey once sang. He neglected to mention that it definitely doesn't spawn blog posts, the nimby little fop.

b) Whittling a long list of songs down to twenty entries so I can post a list of them on this perverse little corner of the internet.

A disclaimer of sorts first though. I don't think 2010 has been a vintage year by any means and I fully expect my list to overlap with other sites and blogs. Anyway, here goes. Lists are serious shit people. Serious. Shit.

20. The Hold Steady - 'The Weekenders'

"She said 'the theme of this party's the industrial age,'...and you came in dressed like a train-wreck."

'Heaven Is Whenever' really didn't last very long in my CD player. Regrettably, it didn't hook me like The Hold Steady records have in the past and by that I mean fish hook in your mouth that will never let go hooked. I remember the artwork being incredibly cool yet I barely remember five songs from the actual record. Still, 'The Weekenders' is one of my most played songs of the year.

Craig Finn opens proceedings with "There was that whole weird thing with the horses..." and from there on in you find yourself living in a Hold Steady dreamworld. As powerful as it is unsure of itself, 'The Weekenders' just begs to be played over and over again because it simply has everything you want from rock song. That irresistible soft/loud verse to chorus pattern, those big riffs and all those lines you just wanna tattoo on your skin. The Hold Steady do what they do and when they do it right, it's unforgettable.

19. Rick Ross (ft. Styles P.) - 'B.M.F (Blowin' Money Fast)'

"I built it ground up/you bought it renovated..."

I'm not writing a separate list on the best beats or producers I've heard this year. I mean, I'd love to but I've got a job and stuff.
Even so, I don't mind admitting that the main reason that 'B.M.F...' finds itself in this list is the absolutely ridiculous beat Lex Luger pulled out for this joint. I can't remember the last time I heard something that just breathed enormity. This thing is like Godzilla with skyscrapers for feet pounding down the street. With backing like that Ross could've done pretty much anything on this beat and it would've sounded monstrous but he steps up to the plate pretty well too. It's Rick Ross after all, it's going to be big and it's going to be dumb but that beat, well, it's two things; irresistible and undeniable. Just listen to it man. Listen to it loud and then get someone to help you up off the floor.

18. Broken Bells - 'The High Road'

"Come on and get the minimum..."

When I first heard about the Broken Bells collaboration I was excited and worried in equal measure. On one hand you had one of the best lyricist and singers in indie rock and the most sought after producer going working together. Yet, in the other negative and dirty hand you have that nagging doubt that Dangermouse tries to do too much sometimes. He can really suffocate songs and albums with too many ideas, that one trick too far. Hey, there's a reason no one remembers any Gnarls Barkley songs aside from 'Crazy'. Yes, I agree that once you have made a song like 'Crazy' your talent should never really be questioned ever again but whatever.

Still, on 'The High Road' everything fell into its right place. Mercer was given space to breathe, the drums were perfectly paced and stated and that "'s too late to change your mind" coda could sing a sunburnt baby to sleep

Monday, 1 November 2010

Time You Enjoy Wasting, Is Not Wasted.

Chuck Norris is also 70 this year. If alive, do you think Lennon would swop his musical career for Chuck's internet popularity in his latter years?

Miraculously the title is not another hammy line ripped from the delightful pages of Facebook Quotes that I linked to in my last post about 'The Social Network'. Oh no, that's a quote from Mr John Lennon right there. It really states the obvious too, doesn't it? Whether you've wasted time on something is entirely subjective as well. If you enjoy watching paint dry then you'd probably consider staring at a wall of wet paint for hours on end quite a worthwhile activity.

John Lennon was 70 this year of course. I've been listening to 'Plastic Ono Band' a whole lot in the car recently too. An album that really stands up regardless of Lennon's unmistakable celebrity and any bands he happened to be in before it was released, I'd hasten to add. It's a raw listen, it really is. I've always loved how the first thing you hear on this whole record aside from that funeral gong is Lennon's "Motherrrrrrrr...." which comes in a millisecond before any percussion does. Really sets the tone of that wonderfully helpless song beautifully.

In more important news, the Royal Mint are going to feature John Lennon of John Lennon Airport fame on a new commemorative £5 coin they are pressing. These coins are due to sell for £44.99 each. Now I like John as much as the next man but there's something wrong about handing over £45 and getting back a £5 coin in return. You could call the coin an investment but me being me, I just know that there'd be a time over the next couple of years where I'd have no change at the Petrol Station and that shiny coin would be used to buy a bottle of Lucozade, a pack of Monster Munch and a Sherbet Dib-Dab. I just know it.

This vocal on this song below just rips. Swear you can hear vocal chords shredding at some points.

"Innn the mornniinnnn', wannnnaaa dieeeee."

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Why Keep Your Life on Hold, For Hope?

You can get to 8 blog followers without making any enemies though. Who's laughing now ZSuckerberg?

The title of this post is taken from a ridiculous site I just stumbled across called Facebook Quotes. As expected, this site solely consists of quotes people can use for their Facebook statuses. They're arranged in lists under titles like 'Hope' and 'Missing you'. If I told you that they're all hideously spelt and just a little bit melodramatic would you be surprised? Thought not.

I've just got back from holiday so I haven't been posting on here nor have I been tweeting. If you've noticed then, well, I'm flattered actually. Meanwhile, I've been a bit slow with cinema releases this year which is to say that whilst I've watched things, I've usually only got round to seeing them after they've been out for weeks. For evidence of this read my post I made earlier in the year hating on 'Inception' and then subsequent awkward opinion reversal posts when I'd actually *seen* it and realised that, oh wow, it's really quite good. Hey, don't look at me like that. I always judge things both too early and, by and large, by their cover.

With the above paragraph considered, I finally got around to watching 'The Social Network' last night and it was really good. I'll say here that when I originally heard the premise of the film I was a bit put off. I mean Facebook, at the absolute best of times, is pretty painful* and these guys are making a film about this time waster. I mean, seriously? It was when I was thinking thoughts like these that someone nudged me and told me about all the fascinating power struggles Facebook had encountered during its inception (oh! nice link) and more importantly that the film was going to be directed by all round nice guy and really-good-at-what-he does-man, David Fincher.

This success of this film for me is largely down to two factors. Firstly, the script is brilliantly lean and really conveys what it probably was like when some nerds decided to, by hook or by crook, set up this site that we now waste all of our lives on. These guys aren't portrayed as being amazingly charasmatic nor are they especially witty and that was something I thought might have been lost in translation. It'd be easy to write the creators up as prodigious upstarts that saw what they wanted in life, what they aspired to be and just went out there and got it. Life is, of course, rarely like that and whether some of the decisions we witness being made in this film were by accident or design, it's sort of hard to tell. The film reflects all this brilliantly.

Secondly, the acting (Zuckerberg's character in particular) is faultless. Jesse Eisenburg plays Zuckerberg as a 'coding genius'. That term right there 'coding genius' may as well be a synonym for 'geek', let's be honest here. The crucially important thing about Mark Zuckerberg in real life and as he is portrayed here is to remember that he was never in any doubt about his abilities. He knew and still knows how good he is. Eisenburg underpins his performance with a knowing self satisfaction that makes him look obnoxious pre Facebook taking off but completely vindicated as the users log on in their thousands, his HTML coding gets him groupies and he becomes BFFs with the extremely annoying Sean Parker played by Justin Timberlake. Here bringin' SexyBack with that stupid perm looking thing he use to rock in N*Sync's dying days.

So 'The Social Network' becomes the second big film of the year to completely exceed my expectations. The first one being 'Inception', of course. I was going to end this post with a joke that links those two films but to be honest, I don't think you could find two films more diametrically opposed unless you were watching 'Mean Girls' on one screen and 'Jurassic Park' on another, so I gave up.

*I understand that the quality of your own Facebook experience depends totally on who you have on your friends list. It just so happens that my friends list is made up of people I'm not friends with, people I don't know and people that can't spell. Thems the breaks.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Lost In The World

Despite being male, I'd still swop my talking voice for Nicki Minaj's in a heartbeat.

Kanye West's film 'Runaway' premiered on the US networks at the weekend. Naturally, it was all over the sick, twisted and quite brilliant internet within a moment's notice.

The film is an interesting one, to say the least. I was going to try and write a small summary of what happens but I feel that you will all think I've finally lost it if I do. Let's just say that the film includes an asteroid smashing into earth, a phoenix being born, Kanye and phoenix watching a fireworks display whilst a massive Michael Jackson papier mache head is paraded and some ballerinas dancing around to a song that includes the line "24/7 365 pussy stays on my mind." All this and its only 34 minutes long. Take note James Cameron with your shitty little blue world boring everyone into submission for hours on end.

For a fan boy like me, the main draw of this film is to hear the vast majority of songs included on 'My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy', albeit in snippet form. Safe to say that the ones I haven't already heard sound very interesting. Really digging the Rihanna featuring 'All of The Lights' I must say. The film is beautifully shot and at times is remarkably vivid, I've never seen anything like it before. My monitor is ancient and dusty as anything too. It's like it was recently salvaged from Tutankhamun's tomb. How much Mr West has to do with the actual cinematography and all I don't know, but either way, it's definitely worth watching. Gotta say that Kanye's acting when he has a line (which is rare) is a bit lame but he cleverly distracts you by wearing some super sharp suits. The mischievous, badly acting and well dressed little scamp.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

In Memoriam - Elliott Smith

I remember October 21, 2003 really well. It was the day my favourite artist, Elliott Smith, died. It was a normal day really, nothing extraordinary happened to make it stand out from any other. I remember that I heard the news and I remember that I went to the supermarket for something and it absolutely poured down. On the way there the radio was playing a recently released R.E.M song called 'Bad Day'. I won't attribute any greater meaning or anything to this weather or this song but both sort of made me think that I didn't wanna be out of the house that evening. I got home a little later and played Elliott's albums back to back like I had a million times before. I wasn't overwhelmed with sadness or loss, I remember just feeling very, very strange.

Seven years have now passed since that day and a lot has happened to me since then. The good and the bad, the ups and the downs. Nothing more or less than this life game promises us all, I suppose. Elliott's music, however, has always been a constant. He remains my favourite artist and I'm still regularly surprised by a turn of one of his phrases or a melody buried deep in one of the many astounding songs he released. I remember the day I first heard 'Either/Or' and couldn't help but think that I was the only person in the world to ever listen to the record. You'd listen to these songs and feel like you'd just shared a secret and a beer with the man. To this day, I'm still a little taken aback when I read an article about him or overhear someone discussing him. I always want to say "You're in on this thing too? I thought it was just me."

Since his death I've also come to understand why I felt so strange on that rainy day in October. I think it had something to do with knowing that someone like Elliott was out there, making the music he was making, on this same planet I was inhabiting. It was comforting, in a strange way. There was always the promise that he'd announce a tour and I could go see him or that he'd release some details of a new record that I could get stupidly excited about. When he died, he took this promise and this comfort with him. Whilst I'm eternally grateful for the body of work he has left behind, it's also difficult, from a purely selfish viewpoint, not to rue what could've been and what he could've done.

Elliott seemed to be a conflicted character that didn't get along with himself too well sometimes. I know that's a extremely basic way to put it but so much is written about his life, his death and everything in between that's it's almost easier to look at it that way. Whilst his life may have acted as the catalyst (be that for good or for bad) behind his art, I prefer not too look into it in too much detail. It's simply not my place to. Clearly, Elliott went to some dark places in his thirty four years. To me, however, it's now more important to stress that the man had an amazing gift for writing songs that speak to your very core. Songs that sometimes sounded more like whispered reassurances that everything's going to be okay than a guy with some instruments and a ludicrous amount of talent.

I'm trying to keep this short and not too gushing so I'll sign out here and just say, keep Elliott Smith in your thoughts for a minute or two this week. In fact, I'll help you with that one. Watch the video below, there's a couple of minutes or so right there that'll lodge him in the forefront of your mind.

Elliott Smith - 'Alameda'

Friday, 8 October 2010

This Job Is Killing Me.

You know when people get stranded by the tide coming in? They must be really thick, right? It's happened to me three times in my life thus far :*(

Not this one. I haven't blogged for so long that you couldn't really call this a job. Those lovely fellas in sportswear queueing up down at the jobcentre do more work in a day than I've done on this blog in the last three weeks. As always, no real reason. Life just tends to get in the way. If you aren't already, follow me on twitter at @manmeetdinosaur. I post far more frequently on there. The material is identical to this blog though, I warn you now. Posts containing content that mainly conform to a music/popular culture focus whilst often shot through with biting sarcasm and historical inaccuracies. Safe to say if you hate my blog, you'll despise my twitter.

I've decided to post because I'm avoiding (or trying to) eBay right now, if you must know. Not because I've bought some old shit that i'm trying to avoid paying for. I'm not just sat here as vitrolic negative feedback piles up. Oh no. I just always buy rubbish on ebay I don't want. In fact, in my university days someone once found me typing 'weapons' into the eBay search bar FFS. I wasn't even doing it in a Anarchist/kid about to go postal way either. I just thought it'd be cool to buy some ninja stars or something like that. Maybe some of those ninja sticks. I often wonder where my student loan went y'know.

So, whilst I'm here, I'll talk about The Walkmen. I was just reading this great little feature over at the ever brilliant FADER site about these guys and it got me to thinking about them and how truly magnificent they are. One thing I probably overstate when writing about bands/artists on here is consistency. I always seem to be lauding bands for being consistent when I can understand people who argue that if someone makes a record that is a stone cold classic, yet also a one off that they'll never match again, then what's wrong with that? Well, nothing really but The Walkmen are one of those bands that make great albums time and time again. They aren't unknown, sure, but the amount of inches you'll read on bands that don't stack up to the knees of this lot is enormous. Trust me when I tell you that they are far more than just 'The Rat'. Although, I must say here that song still makes me go absolutely mental when I hear it. Proper beating-my-heart-and-shouting-to-the-heavens style like I'm Brian Blessed after a full fat Red Bull. "CAN'T YOU HEAR ME! I'M BEATING ON THE WAAALLL!" I scream at the mirror. "Yeah I can, STFU!" wail the neighbours.

Anyway, I've just ordered The Walkmen's new record 'Lisbon' from the ever speedy* and I highly suggest you do too. I have the highest of hopes. The title video of this post is a song called 'Stranded' (horns baby! horns) and the song below is called 'Angela Surf City'. I think these two tunes highlight the quality of this band well and also, they couldn't really be more different. (Somebody give that drummer a glass of water. Boy on fiah.) Both songs are taken from 'Lisbon' which is out on Monday.

Can't imagine too many surfer chicks being called Angela, I must say.

* Haha. I told a lie.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Numbers Don't Lie.

No, this is not a drawing of Christian or Edge of WWF fame.

The title of this post also doesn't relate to the lack of readers I have either but yes I know, the numbers don't lie. No indeed, the title of this post relates to a song by The Mynabirds (and indeed the drawing above is of Laura Burhenn of Mynabird fame) which is taken from their splendid 'What We Lose in The Fire We Gain in the Flood' album that came out earlier in the year on Saddle Creek. The Mynabirds are just one of hundreds of artists that have performed mini sets for Daytrotter and all these sets are available to listen to and/or download for free from the Daytrotter site. A simple rule of thumb to work by is this: if you like the band, they've probably done a Daytrotter session. Personal highlights include The National, Two Gallants, AA Bondy, Josh Ritter, Quasi, Tim Fite. Man, there's just loads. Check out the alphabetical page for proof.

So yeah, just a quick post to say check out Daytrotter if you already don't. It's really an incredible archive of great music from a wide array of musicians of all styles and sorts that is unparalleled anywhere else online. It's even on my roll call of sites that I check on a daily basis and believe me when I tell you that only the best of the best get on that list. Current daily checkers: daytrotter, Hamsters Blog, 101 Ways to Make Money and Justin Bieber Music.

If I had one criticism of daytrotter, it would be that the drawings DT use when posting new sessions are sometimes a bit off. Don't get me wrong here, on the whole they're great and I think that aesthetically the site looks really cohesive but if you see below - Do you know who that is? That's meant to be Adam Haworth Stephens from Two Gallants. To me it's more "So why so serious?" than it is heartworn troubadour, no?

"I'm an agent of chaos."

Oh yeah, and whilst I'm here. The band OK GO. We get it now, okay? We really do. Yes, you're really good at spending ages and ages on really clever viral videos that amass millions of views on youtube, we know and believe me when I say that yes, that's cool. I do, however have one major issue -The tunes are still really dull. I hate to be a boner but d'ya think you could do anything about that me old pals?

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Dinotour : End of The Road Festival - Larmer Tree Gardens - 10.09 - 12.09

This was End of The Road's fifth festival. It was MMD's third consecutive appearance. The line up has got better with each year MMD has attended. You can call that coincidence if you like. I'll try and waste no further time with these introductions as I often do, instead I'm going to take a day-by-day approach to this thing. I just think thats more organised, more professional and as David Brent once said "Professionalism is.....and that's what I want."


So the festival started properly on Friday but the campsite opened a day early which seems to be a trend with these summer festivals - I'm pretty sure the campsite for the next Glastonbury is open now - and as the organisers of EOTR are a pretty good bunch, they put a few bands on to keep the earlycomers entertained. The whole thing kicked off with an unannounced surprise acoustic slot from Willy Mason. I've never really given him a chance in all truth nor am I familiar with any of his songs aside from 'Oxygen' and 'Where The Humans Eat' but he was nice enough. You know, songs about whiskey and southbound trains and the travellin' man and all that. The main draw of this precursor day, though, was undoubtedly Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan. They did their gravel vs honey trick pretty well and after starting off a bit suspiciously sound wise, it wasn't long before they hit their stride and got into their groove. I particularly enjoyed 'You Won't Let Me Down Again' from the recently released 'Hawk' because it's got a bit of tempo and although I really like the duo, it can get a little wearing live. Mainly because each song has a tendency to sound very similar to the last one. No hatin', just sayin'. Oh and Mark Lanegan I know your schtick is to be all moody and that but c'mon man, say "hello" at least.

I missed Allo Darlin' later on that night which could've been regrettable because apparently they were pretty good. I do wish that they'd tone down the tweeness though, I'm not alone in thinking that right? Still, I should've watched them but I was oblivious over in my tent playing scrabble, drinking tea out of china cups and smoking a pipe.


I may as well sketch photos court room style in the future. L-R: Joaquin Phoenix, Stone Cold and Beck.

Elliot Brood had the dubious honour of being the first band of this festival that I was really looking forward to seeing. Mainly because I've listened to them for years but I've never had the opportunity to see them live. I've never even seen a picture of them in fact. They could've looked like anyone. Turns out, they don't look out of the ordinary. At a push they look like, erm, Joaquin Phoenix, a mix between Beck/Matt Berninger and the drummer looks like, well, he's bald so take your pick. Not Stone Cold Steve Austin though, he doesn't look like him. Enough with tedious lookalikes though, Elliott Brood were really good, perfectly twangy and refreshingly loud. 'Second Son' filled all my expectations wonderfully as did 'Acer Negundo'. Both are taken from an album called 'Ambassador' that you should already have if you're any good but if not, sort that. You do get the impression at this festival that people often watch bands with open minds and perfectly intend to investigate further if a new band impresses them. EB definitely impressed here and I hope a few people check them out on the back of this performance

After that it was to the main stage for a run consisting of Freelance Whales, The Mountain Goats, Wolf Parade and headliners of the night, Modest Mouse. I may or may not have made a joke about all the bands having animal band names at some point. Yeah, it sank like a lead zeppelin. Still, Freelance Whales. I'd been enjoying 'Weathervanes' a great deal in the week leading up to the festival but I did think they got a bit lost in the wind in this sort of live setting. Perhaps in a small venue it would have worked better (they did play a smaller tent the next night which got rave reviews) but here it sounded like someone had set up a ghetto blaster on stage to play the Freelance Whales album at a lowish volume. Next up was the library heartbreak/resolve of The Mountain Goats and as I expected, they've got some real devoted fans. I can see why too. John Darnielle is easily one of the most consistent songwriters going and whilst his body of work is a pretty hefty one, there really isn't too much fat in it at all. Nor did he disappoint here. I don't think I was the only one to be hoping for as many songs as possible from 'The Sunset Tree' and from memory we definitely got 'You or Your Memory' and 'This Year'. "I am going to make it through this year if it kills me..." we all sang. Not really one for those on death row that tune.

The Mountain Goats doing their thing. John Darnielle thinking we're falling for him plugging his guitar into a piece of strawberry liquorice.

Wolf Parade didn't happen because we found out that was a secret gaming garden near the main stage and I just love games too much. I say gaming garden there but for any of you younger readers out there, this wasn't like the Trocadero or anything. This is a gaming garden at a indie/folk festival we're talking about. There wasn't an Xbox or PS3 in sight which to me is a good thing because if they had Call of Duty set up I wouldn't have seen a band. I mean that too. Instead we had table football, table tennis and a skittles thing. So, sorry about that Wolf Parade (and I did hear they were really good) but man, table tennis is such a good game. Just hitting a little ball over a little net on a little table. That's what life's really about. Could table tennis help those in poverty or in need? I think it wouldn't would it, it is really good fun though.

I reviewed a Modest Mouse show for this here blog a while back and whilst I enjoyed it I also thought there was something not quite right about them. I'll level with you here, I didn't really enjoy their headline show at all. Again, it's hard to put a finger on why. Some of the song choices seemed a bit obtuse for a festival slot (why play 'The Whale Song'?') and even the songs the band knew would be crowd pleasers sounded a bit murky and off paced. I'm talking things like 'Satin In a Coffin' here. At times, I found my spirit and mind had been left over at the table tennis table whilst my body stood shoulder to shoulder with others watching Modest Mouse sort of wishing they'd finish soon. I know, I'm sorry, it just wasn't for me that night.


This was the day that, on paper, looked by far the weakest for me. It started pretty dismally when I woke at 6am to find my tent pretty much entirely filled with water. I was just pleased I slept in a scuba mask. This Saturday, however, actually turned out to contain the highlight of my festival. I've loved Iron & Wine for a long long time now. I think Sam Beam is in the top five lyricists working today if he isn't the best and it really gets to me how his songs and the words contained in those songs are often dismissed as sounding "all the same". That said, I haven't seen I&W live for a couple of years but recent reports I've read and heard have suggested that he's a bit of a noodling jamster these days which is frustrating because he's capable of silencing wars when he stands alone with an acoustic guitar. Either way, I made my way to watch him on the main stage as it was getting dark and I was completely unprepared for what happened next. Firstly, Sam Beam came out alone with an acoustic guitar. Secondly, he played a set that, if I'm not mistaken, consisted of every single one of my favourite I&W songs. Starting with an acapella 'Flightless Bird, American Mouth' Beam silenced the crowd in a way very few performers can. From the plucked beauty of ' Upwards Over The Mountain' to the rolling majesty of 'The Trapeze Swinger', it was then that I knew I'd just witnessed two things. 1. something very special and 2. the best performance of the weekend. The latter song, in particular, was jaw dropping.

Clearly not recorded at EOTR but just watch it. You'll see what I'm saying

Iron & Wine had already made my night but as is the way with this festival, there's always something to watch. Later that night we caught Caitlin Rose who had packed out the 'Local Stage' (read as 'not-so-big top with stage in middle. Open on one side) and she sounded in fine voice even if I'm a bit baffled by her popularity. I mean, it's just classic Nashville sound country isn't it? There's a million cassettes of people sounding like that clogging up those reduced baskets up and down the country's service stations. Fill yer (Topshop) cowboy boots pardners! Later that night I played some more table tennis including a game against some guy (he looked like a drummer) from Black Mountain who CHEATED to a win against me. Kinda mean considering I was handicapped at the time. Yeah, I was drunk, I mean I was drunk.


The Antlers were charging £15 for a t-shirt. No wonder they can afford that fancy lighting.

This was the day that leapt out of the schedule for me with The Antlers, Felice Brothers, The Low Anthem and Wilco playing in a row on the main 'Garden Stage'. The Antlers kicked off in the sunshine playing a pretty short set consisting of songs from 'Hospice' which was my favourite album of last year. As I mentioned when reviewing last years festival, some bands sound a little strange in certain situations and I think that applied here too. 'Hospice' is an extraordinary album about a set of circumstances that, seem at least, desperately tragic. For me, songs like that sound a bit weird in Dorset sunlight whilst the bloke to the left of you concentrates on stopping his Solero from dripping. Still, they stayed faithful to those brilliant songs and I only hope so of the crowd were turned on to the band from seeing that set. If not, they truly do not know what they are missing out on.

The Felice Brothers irritated me. I've never been overwhelmingly in love with them anyway but I'm certainly partial to the odd song and don't deny they have a certain charm. In a live setting though, their whole country troubadour thing is really played out. They spoke of how they'd been up all night and the singer was slurring because he had no doubt had been drinking bourbon constantly for the last xx years despite looking about 14 and they sounded all over the place but yes, I know, that ramshackle approach is supposed to be part of their charm etc. Bleurgh. I just didn't really enjoy it all. We left halfway through this set to get some food and as always, the food at this festival is as diverse as it is good. It's all well expensive but everyone knows that money doesn't really mean anything at festivals and the majority of people are perfectly happy to frit away small fortunes on food, drink and whatever shit they sell in those stalls around the site. Any combination of bongos, fur coats, high visibility vests and army jackets by the look of things.

This guy thought carrying a duck on a stick was quite literally the funniest thing ever.

The Low Anthem are the archetypal EOTR band. They really are. They are of a certain size. They play indie folk/americana. They are on Bella Union and Nonesuch in the US. You see where I'm going with this. They got another great reception this year on a main stage that, for their time slot, was as busy as I'd seen it. I seemed to be alone as I struggled with the lack of variance in their music as their set wore on. It's perhaps a bit rich to talk of variety at a festival like this because that's not really the aim of the whole thing but I found myself getting bored a fair distance before the band closed their set. After they'd just finished I heard a girl near me say "...that [the set] was so perfect, the atmosphere here is so beautiful." I looked at her as she said this, I then looked at the bloke stood next to her and he was picking his nose and examining the extractions. I found that kinda funny. Beautiful indeed.

Chances are your Dad was ROCKING OUT to Wilco whether you knew he was at EOTR or not.

Wilco were the last band I saw at the festival and, as expected, the ended the thing in a fantastic manner. Rarely do you see a band that contains such professionals on every instrument like them. Jeff's voice has been at the top of its game for years now and I couldn't criticise at all aside from saying they didn't play enough from 'Yankee Hotel Foxtrot' (obviously) and that they didn't play 'Spiders (kidsmoke)' because that song live is an absolute juggernaut. With Wilco, you know what you're going to get and everyone loves them for that. They have the largest of back catalogues to choose from and let's fact it, must of those songs are winners. This one was a foregone conclusion before the band even came out. Brilliant.

End of The Road surely remains the best small festival in the country and as I said last year, if you like this sort of thing, there really is nowhere better. I've got some concerns to how sustainable the festival is at its current size because after all, these guys are running a business here and to progress, well, surely that means selling more tickets or selling the same amount of tickets at a higher price. Of course, This could reflect both postively and negatively on the festival as a whole but either way, I'll be here next year and I urge you to be too

P.S EOTR organisers: Next year, perhaps throw a token act from a different musical genre on here or there though yeah?

Thursday, 9 September 2010

End of The Road Festival Preview.

Regrettably, I did an end of the road Boyz II Men pun on last year's review so I'm all out of jokes.

End of The Road festival starts in earnest tomorrow (sort of today, more on that later) and we're going to be there. I've got a feeling, no, not that tonight's going to be a good good night, but more that it's going to rain all weekend. Still, it'll take more than that to dampen our spirits! That's lies actually, if it is persisting down all weekend that will be probably wholeheartedly dampen our spirits but even so, here's a preview.

The lineup is really strong this year. Thankfully (for me at least), EOTR is a rare example of a festival thats lineup gets better with each year that passes. Headliners this year are Modest Mouse, Yo La Tengo and Wilco. For a festival with a 10,000 capacity. That's not half bad, is it? As I said in my review of last year's festival, if you like this sort of music (and yeah, you know what I mean by that) I don't think there's any better event.

Bands/Artists of particular interest:

Dylan LeBlanc
The Antlers ('Two' video above)
Felice Brothers
The Low Anthem
The Unthanks
Iron & Wine
Freelance Whales
The Mountain Goats
Wolf Parade
Modest Mouse
Kath Bloom
Black Mountain
Elliott Brood ('Second Son' video below)
Here We Go Magic
The New Pornographers
Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan
Caitlin Rose

Bands/Artists of particular interest not appearing this year:

Okkervil River

As you can see, quite a few big names (and a glaring omission) in there. One thing I did notice whilst looking around the set times page was some guy called 'Daredevil Christopher Wright'. I'll be honest, I've never heard of this man. HOWEVER, if this actually is a real daredevil I'm so in for this. Real talk, if there's a guy doing motorcycle jumps through burning rings of fire in white leather with glamourous assistants and stuff then well, I'll be ecstatic. Why? Well, you can only have so much indie music with a folky slant/beards can't you? Am I the only person to go to festivals, and really enjoy them, yet at various points during the weekend find myself thinking "God. I could do with someone getting their Evel Knievel hustle on right now." Yeah, I probably am. Either way, I'll review this thing upon my return and I'll let you know about Daredevil Christopher Wright too. If he's still alive by then the crazy/bonkers/stuntman/daredevil/nutter.

I haven't fully researched clashes yet. I do know that Modest Mouse will probably run into the The New Pornographers set a little and that Iron & Wine are to clash with Caitlin Rose but, as with life, I will wing this thing as I go. I'm not one to print out times and make a spreadsheet. Oh no, not me. I'd rather not plan anything and then curse my rotten luck come the end of the festival when I realise that, due to my poor planning, I've missed 78% of the bands I wanted to see.

I'll be back early next week with a review and some photos like only Man, Meet Dinosaur can (grainy, out of focus, someone's thumb covering the lens). If you're going, enjoy and stay away from all the artists I'm going to watch, I need some space. If you're not, well, why not? Enjoy B&Q and playing Mario or whatever else you're doing with your time loser.

As for me, apparently Campbell/Lanegan are due to play today (Thursday) in the 'Tipi Tent' so I'm heading over for that. Other than that I think today is mainly reserved for setting up tents, resetting up tents when they fall down and mainly walking around the site going "Oh this is nice isn't it?"

Oh and btw, I'll be live tweeting this thing from my twitter @manmeetdinosaur if you're *that* bored. Follow one, follow all!

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering?

Looks like it's gonna be a great day today.

Yo it's me, your main man, your light in the dark, checking in. Just thought I'd write a bit on where it's at right now in my own inimitable and meandering way.

New Releases:

Black Milk - 'Album of the Year'

This is going to be a big one. Trust me on this. The first two singles were exactly what I wanted from the man. Exactly what he needed to push this one to the next level where he belongs. Check 'Welcome (Gotta G0)' and 'Deadly Medley' to see just where I'm coming from. Links courtesy of BM's official site and the ever excellent 2 Dope Boys. Horrid title though. Saddle Creek darlings The Good Life tried the exact same thing a while back (i.e. called their album 'Album of the Year') and I don't think anyone ever really found it half as amusing as Cursive themselves did. Bit like how no one thinks these blog posts are anywhere near as good as I think they are.

Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan - 'Hawk'

This is very much more of the same. You all knew I was going to say that right? As ever, Campbell & Lanegan's voices contrast each other so starkly that their tales of wayfaring, wrongdoing and repenting are never anything but engaging. Lanegan is the earth, Campbell is the sky. For once, you can say that the sum is far more than the parts. Also, that song of theirs, 'Trouble', has sung me to sleep many many times. The sleep of a restless sinner, I usually wake up with a wet pillow.

Brandon Flowers - 'Flamingo'

I'm going to give this a try. I think Flowers really is a far better writer than he gets credit for. Yes, he fronts a massive stadium band that never stick to one style for more than five minutes but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Let's be honest, he writes enormous songs that at some point in our lives or another, we've all loved. In particular, that 'Read My Mind' tune from 'Sam's Town' I thought was really affecting. This is the second time I've mentioned emotions in this post. This is all getting too much isn't it? I'm sorry. You all know the truth about me. I'm a man, not a damn flower picking mouse that smells all pretty and enjoys talking about emotions.

Fashawn - 'Grizzly City 3'

Fashawn just dropped the third installment of the 'Grizzly City' series mixtapes and just like the other two, this is well worth getting. Link here courtesy of Nah right, like normal. Check out 'Santiago's Revenge' to see why this boy is worth talking about. Twice.

Freelance Whales - 'Weathervanes'

Yes that's a serious band name. I've gotta feeling that being a freelance whale would be really tough work incidentally. Being a whale in general is a full time job in itself. Just too much weight to drag around those vast lonely seas where you swim and swim thinking about your one and only glory day. That being when you flapped your fin that one time on Encarta 97 and the world watched you. Then you were held up with MLK, a butterfly and Bowie. Now you're freelancing.

Properly digressing there, sorry, 'Weathervanes' then. This is a beautiful little album (that you can get on spotify). Really dreamy and you can definitely tell that these guys have spent some serious time with some Sufjan Stevens records in their time. There's a fair bit of Death Cab in here too but I shouldn't really say that because I often find mentioning DCFC puts people right off. It's like that thing where you say "Wow. This [object/gone off food item] really stinks! Give it a try. G'on, smell this buddy," and then, of course, people always say "If you say it really stinks why would I smell it? Get it away from me." For this reason, I hate people.

Before I go, a little note on the Madvillian video up there. That's the Four Tet remix of 'Great Day' and that I've recently been introduced to and damn, doesn't that feel so life affirming?! I always thought the original of that song was good but that there was a little too much 'distance' between the track and the vocal if that makes any sense at all. Madvillian specialises in sounding spaced like that, I know, but I knew that rhyme had such potential. Well, actually, I knew someone could do what Four Tet has done up there with it some day. Sorta sounds like a Dntel track, doesn't it. Either way, simply awe inspiring shit.

"Couldn't find a pen, had to think of a new trick/
This one he wrote in cold blood with a toothpick."