Monday, 29 March 2010

Cartoon Heroes, Startling Talent That Makes You Feel Old and Southern Fried Rock.

New releases, new releases, new releases. I buy 'em, I can't afford 'em. That's how I roll to all y'all rappers out there. Spendin' money I can't afford. It's a national habit, just open your eyes.

So, what have I bought and how is it are the two questions that spring to mind to the couple of people that read this blog. Well, Mum and Dad, just look below:

Speaking ain't that impressive.

Laura Marling - I Speak Because I Can
"I know someone who is in love with this girl. This someone is a girl too. It's not like that though okay? You'll go to hell for what your dirty mind is thinking. First listens suggest that she's onto something because it feels like a really nice record. Comforting even. 'Ramblin' Man' stood out when I listened to it for the first time earlier. First time listen standouts are always very impressive. That said the same did occur when I heard the Crazy Frog for the first time."

I wrote this paragraph last week but never published it. "...really nice record." Talk about being damned with faint praise! God, I'd give up the ghost (no pun intended) if I was Marling and read that. I'm sorry Laura, it was a first listen. Truly, it's a beautiful beautiful record. Has anyone said a fair few of these songs could slip onto Nick Drake's 'Pink Moon' with very little disguise yet? I'm sure they have but it's a strikingly obvious at times. That's a good thing by the way. 'I Speak Because I Can' is assured yet unassuming, beautiful without make up. If my car scrobbled to my, whoever is at the top of my charts would be under threat.

I swear never to write a sentence as boring as that last one ever again.

N.B. This girl is 20 ffs! I'm not much older and I've achieved nothing other than a couple of swimming badges I won when I was about 12. Since then it's been nothin' but plain sailing over an impossibly still sea where not much happens and the distinct smell of mediocrity hangs in the air.

Gorillaz - Plastic Beach
Wonder if Plastic Beach is about Blackpool? Littered with condoms, coke bottles and Manchester United fans last time I went.

"Had this for a couple of weeks in truth and it's ace. For the length it is, there's quite amazingly few dud tracks. That sounds like a really backhanded compliment (again!) but I don't mean it that way. Check out that fairground beat on 'Glitter Freeze' for example, it's absolutely MASSIVE. Lou Reed can stop sounding so cool too. Boy be showin' me up when I'm crusin' down the street sittin' on dirty hubcaps (only 3/4 intact)."

Again, written last week when Easter was still looming fantastically and everyone felt like it was going to be their birthday soon. Turns out nobody got nothin' but a bit fatter and then we all had to go back to work. Who knew? 'Plastic Beach' stands to be a BIG summer album I feel. Chock full of singles and my word do Gorillaz like singles. Cartoons that got more singles than a speed dating meet or a Star Trek convention. That's something to feel good inc about. Give 'On Melancholy Hill' a go. You'll be dancing like you've never been bitter and cynical.

Drive-By Truckers - The Big To-Do

"Rock 'n roll means well but it can't help tellin' young boys lies."

"DBTs have fallen off of late with the last couple of efforts being less than spectacular. However, between the years of 2001-04 they had a run of three albums that I believe wasn't matched or bettered by anyone during the past decade. Southern Rock Opera/Decoration Day/The Dirty South. Look 'em up wimps. For those three records and those three only I will buy everything they will ever release."

This is, erm, fun. I think that's the right word. I use to really hate when this band was written off as being big, dumb or even worse as 'Southern Fried Rock'. They can do that, sure. Some of their tunes are just enormous with hooks like David Haye (oh! topical. you've got your finger on the pulse MMD!) but they're are band that rest on a very special fulcrum - Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley. Two genuinely fantastic songwriters that you'd be hard pushed to beat. Shame the band lost Jason Isbell a few years back because with him as well, The DBTs had such a massive future ahead of them. Whilst in the band, Isbell also wrote one of my favourite songs ever, 'Outfit', btw.

Support the artists you love and buy their records and all that.

Kickin' Ass, Phantom Limbs and New Tings.

1. Who knows that feeling when you wanna go to the movies but when you look at the listings, well, there just isn't really much on. There's things you could watch, there's things you could 'not mind' and usually there's plenty of things you are convinced that you'll hate. Be that because the trailer looks poor, the poster tame or that Jennifer Aniston is in it. Case in point for all three below.

To think I typed 'Bounty Hunter' in to get this image. No foolin', I'd rather watch a 'Dog the Bounty Hunter' movie than this mess and I hate Dog and his bounty hunting.

A couple of friends and I were in a state a bit like the one described above last night when we headed to the cinema to watch 'Kick Ass'. We didn't particularly want to see it nor did we expect it to be very good but still, what else are you going to do on a Sunday night? Go to church?! Either way, 'Kick Ass' was actually really good! I know! I can barely believe it either. Yeah it was a bit like one of those JuddapatowSethRogensuperbadknockedup films but I think it was pretty well thought out and for the sort of film it is (plot revolves around everymanboy wannabe superheroes and basic teenage worries) very well written too. Apparently the woman pictured below, Jane Goldman, wrote it:

This woman is seriously married to Jonathan Ross. I don't even think she's joking.

Which is also kinda cool because I'm pretty sure last time I saw someone like that they were growing their own drugs in their attic and pretty in to incense sticks in a big way. I don't judge things by their cover though, you know that. Anyone seen that Jenny Aniston/Gerard Butler flick yet? Kinda looks like it's going to be a hoot judging from the poster and the trailer at least!

'Kick Ass' though, definitely file under 'pretty good' I'd say. 'Shutter Island' is on at the moment too. I haven't seen that. In one corner you've got a film about teens that want to be superheroes and masturbate a lot and in the other you've got a long psychological thriller about Leo DiCaprio killing his family and going mad or something. Is it presumptuous to say that if you love the former you won't love the latter and vice versa? Probably. Films really are horses for courses. One man's annoying and malnourished public schoolboy is another man's 'Twilight' superstar heartthrob after all.

2. It's taken me six years to forgive/forget this moment:

By that I don't mean Natalie Portman, Zach Braff or the film 'Garden State'. Natalie Portman has never offended me, I still think Zach Braff is an ass and I haven't seen 'Garden State' since nor do I intend to. So in that so much that scene only changed my opinion on one thing: The Shins. It's wrong, I know it's wrong. It's really shallow and you could probably find something somewhere to ruin all your favourite everything's. Maybe there's a real creepo public exhibitionist in a prison somewhere that just adores the song 'Country Feedback' by R.E.M. for example. Perhaps Nick Griffin adores stuffed mushrooms like I do. Whether you like it or not, other people's opinions of things can change your opinion of things. That's about as poetic as I can put that.

My point is: before I saw that film, I really liked The Shins. Great lyrics, fantastic melodies and I really dug the album covers too as it happens. Then one day I saw that scene and after that I just hardly listened to 'em anymore. It was kinda sad really. Zach Braff man, so much to answer for.

UP UNTIL RECENTLY THAT IS...DUM..DUM...DERRRRR You know what's coming baby! Yep. I started listening to The Shins again!

It all came about around six weeks ago when I thought I'd give 'Wincing The Night Away' a go. I saw it on Spotify and thought, well, why not? I was so pleased to find that, yes, that is an album man! Real next level shit. Could 'Phantom Limb' be better than 'So Says I'?! I woulda called that crazy talk a while back but damn, 'Phantom Limb' wasn't written by James Mercer - it was sent from a deity up above. To conclude point two, me and The Shins are back together. I just read Zach Braff's wiki page and found out he has OCD btw. I'm not even remotely surprised. Watching more than 30 seconds of 'Scrubs' qualifies you as having some sort of illness doesn't it?

Friday, 19 March 2010

This Is Shit #2

Alex Chilton, once of power pop masters Big Star, died of a suspected heart attack on Wednesday. Chilton's death is a big loss and he will be remembered far and wide, not least in the music world. Mainly because most bands try in vain to sound/be half as good as Big Star were all the time. Most articles I've read about this sad passing mention the influence Big Star and Chilton had on so many artists and I'm pretty sure if I trace the roots of the majority of my favourite artists that somewhere along the way I'd meet Chilton. Thank you for the music in a entirely non ABBA related way Alex.

"I never travel far/without a little Big Star.."

Also, I'd like this disturbing trend of people I really dig dying to stop please. Can somebody get Will Sheff, Jeff Tweedy and Lady Gaga Nick Cave to a safehouse ASAP.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Cover Stars

I've been so lazy on the blogging front, I am sorry. Note I haven't been lazy on the Call of Duty, sleeping or looking at people from school on Facebook to see whether they're doing better than me or not fronts. This may or may not be linked to the lack of blog activity. Pitchfork today released more details of new Hold Steady and National albums. Both of these bands prettay big deals on the slightly tired indie rock scene. The Hold Steady one, 'Heaven is Whenever', looks like a more positive (scuse the pun) 'Things We Lost In The Fire' or that Spiritualized one from a few years back. The National one, 'High Violet', is just cool. Cool like Muhammad Ali and Andre 3000 on a Concorde jet.
This will be joyous. Out May 3rd dogs.

You'll listen to this to death. Out May 10 kittens

I make that two big albums of the year out...*pulls up windows calendar....counts days*..a week apart! That's really something. It feels like we've been feeding on scraps a bit this year release wise so I say bring it on. That said, that 'new' Cash album 'Ain't No Grave' is really something. I know there's a lot of mythology around those American Recordings and it can get a little distracting but as I always say, the proof's in the listening. I don't actually ever say that. It barely makes sense but give the album a spin, you'll know what I mean. Dude sounds like the grand canyon. All epic and knowing. Understanding and tired. Big and defiant. Empty and hard. We miss ya John.

Stop jerking my tears man!

What else is new? I sort of liked that 'alternative' Haiti song (a collaborative stab at Screamin' Jay Hawkins' 'I Put a Spell on You') that came out last week. I still demand to know why Nick Cave isn't some sort of relation to me so I can just chat to him and be pals at family functions and the like. Man's the best. Look at him in this video and tell me otherwise. Other observations include Bobby Gillespie just looking so old and ill. I've never seen anyone that needs some vegetables and a bath so much. Johnny Depp being sort of annoying. We get it Johnny! You're kinda edgy and an actor and you know Tim Burton and shit. Shane McGowan, for someone who lives like he does, doesn't actually look that bad.

That thing I just said about Bobby needing the bath and vegetables more than anyone ever has. I'll concede here, Macgowan probably needs them more.

Talking of Nick Cave (oh great MMD that makes a change you never talk about him you tiresome idiot), I just finished his latest hardback 'The Death of Bunny Munro' which is, don't worry, not like Donnie Darko at all. It is kinda weird though, lots of references to Avril Lavigne's genitals. Feel free to read that sentence again if you must, I did just really say that and it is actually true.
Why are you wearing that stupid man suit?"

I just looked up the lyrics to 'Sk8er Boi' so I could make some witty comment or another and found that the song actually seriously opens with the couplet "He was a boy/she was a girl/Can I make it anymore obvious?" Well you could actually Avril, yeah. I'm a boy, Queen Elizabeth II is a girl. So what? We gonna be makin' out and all that now? Huh?!

Avril, making things so complicated, yesterday.

Monday, 8 March 2010

This is Shit.

As reported here by the BBC and around many other places over the last couple of days, Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse took his own life over the weekend.


When people pass like this, it's always just too sad. Linkous had a lot of problems throughout his life and we can only hope he is at more peace now than he ever was here. As for us he leaves behind, well, we've got some beautiful music that'll warm your bones and for that we are thankful. Sparklehorse were responsible for some truly stunning songs that I've listened to over and over again for many years now. Can songs sometimes feel like friends? I think so.

R.I.P Mark - It's a sad and beautiful world.