Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Cassette Mythos

Sean O'Hagan salutes the magic of the mix-tape: Wear your heart on your sleeves He then fails to provide the tracklisting for the tape he made. I miss the mixtape, though he is right on one thing - compiling tapes is bloody hard.

Concert: Luke Haines (Whelans)

Let me talk about the support act first. They were called Cowboy X, and a worryingly high proportion of the thin audience seemed to be here to see them. They are one of those she-sings, they-play-instruments bands, and on this outing at least they came across as a bit lame. I put this down to weak tunes and a singer who is not actually that brilliant (in contrast to the musicians, who seemed quite good at piling on the music). Still, they did a non-embarrassing cover of P.J. Harvey's 'Dress', probably one of my top ten favourite songs ever; with proper songwriting maybe Cowboy X might amount to something.

Hainser was playing on his own, taking us on a trip through his musical career, playing songs from The Auteurs, Baader Meinhof, Black Box Recorder, and his more recent solo recordings. Now, I had heard previously that Haines was something of a grumpy bollocks, but tonight he came across as a very amiable fellow indeed, cracking wry jokes between the songs and generally giving the impression that he was glad we had come out to see him. Still, when he played, there was an undercurrent of bitter nastiness to what he did. The Black Box Recorder tracks were particularly interesting, as this was my first time hearing him rather than lovely Sarah Nixey singing them. 'England Made Me' suited well the new nasty delivery. Haines also revealed that i) he had not written the talky bits in 'Child Psychology', ii) that he was not really that taken with them, but iii) he had written the "Life is unfair - kill yourself or get over it" chorus, considers it to be his masterpiece, and was somewhat disappointed when the 'Child Psychology' single peaked at #85 in the charts.

The newer tunes impressed me enough to buy his new album, which is called Off My Rocker At The Art School Bop. I like it. There is a song about Gary Glitter on it. Haines was at great pains to point out to us that some of the lyrics were in Glitter's narrative voice and do not represent Haines' own opinions; uncertainty on this point had led to some unpleasantness when he recently played Liverpool.

So yeah, Luke Haines, legendary figure in music, never received the success that was his due despite releasing loads of great records. Maybe I will throw together a compilation of great tunes by him for the education of the masses.

Late breaking news: John Moore, absinthe importer and sometime Luke Haines partner in crime has a blog: John Moore

Monday, January 29, 2007

Film: Red Road

This is a film set in Glasgow… not nice Glasgow, but tower block hell Glasgow. The main character works as one of those people who look at close circuit TV images of the city, reporting any trouble to the cops. She has for unspecified reasons become very withdrawn from her fellow humans. Then she recognises someone from her past on one of the screens, and starts to track him, using the cameras to follow him around the city and then trying to insinuate herself into his actual life (oddly, he fails to recognise her, for reasons eventually explained).

The film cultivates a terrifying air of menace… when the protagonist crashes a party in the bloke's manky tower block flat, one is particularly expecting some kind of pay-off like something from a novel by De Sade. The film does however greatly misdirect the viewer, so the horrible events anticipated never quite arrive (at least not in the manner expected - I'm not completely giving away the plot here).

So yeah, if you would like to see a deeply uncomfortable yet brilliant film that will forever put you off moving to Glasgow, then this is the film for you. It also features the world's best chat up line: "I've been wondering what your cunt tastes like".

The tower blocks look pretty flash, I'm sure you agree.

THE DUCK THAT WOULD NOT DIE

They shot her, they put her in a fridge for two days. They operated on her, and her heart stopped on the table. BUT STILL SHE LIVES.

You can buy a t-shirt to support the wildlife sanctuary where she is now living.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Furcht und Elend in der DDR

Alert readers may have noticed a slight change in my recent post about my most played tracks on iTunes. Evidently I burned up the disc and wrote the piece without actually listening to the tunes, and discovered retrospectively that the 'Jugendliebe' track that begins it is a surprisingly effecting piece of nicey fluff. I had mistaken it for 'Wie Ein Stern' by Frank Schöbel, which is a pretty bad DDR goes Eurovision style tune. Still, I was pleased to hear it this morning when seeing the film Das Leben Der Anderen, where it plays while two of the characters are in an awful pub.

CONCERT: The Jimmy Cake (Whelan's)

Blah de blah, you've heard me talk about these fellows before, if I have not already communicated what they sound like to you, then I am not going to succeed now. Nevertheless, this was an unusual gig – not merely have the Cake acquired a load of new members, they have shed the man I always thought of Mr J. Cake esq.. I was struck by how there might now be more ex-Jimmycakers than current members of the band. Maybe someone could set up The Jimmy Cake II.

You can say what you like about the Cake, but they are definitely attracting a better sort of punter. I ran into one of my pals from Spy School there. He is running for the Dáil in the next election, so he could shortly be running the country, though as he is from a political party where talk of people being spies is officially Not Funny, forget I mentioned it.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Favourite Tunes (as of 21/12/2006)

Join me, gentle reader, as I bomb through what iTunes feels are MY FAVOURITE TUNES EVER. I compiled this list to make a Random Santa present. If you want, you can compare them with previous iTunes top tens: iPod Top Ten (as of 4/5/2006) & iPod Top Ten

So, in reverse order:

TWENTY ONE Ute Freudenberg & Elefant 'Jugendliebe' (from Das Beste Aus Der DDR)
Slightly forgettable, perhaps, but it is the kind of thing I like to listen to on the way to Krautschule. The acoustic guitar line is nice, and I enjoy the "ha-ha" bit in the middle.

TWENTY Shakira 'Suerte' (from 'Wherever, Whenever' single)
I love you Shakira! Truly you are the flower of Colombian womanhood.

NINETEEN Dresden-Sextett 'Am Einem Tag In September' (from Amiga-a-go-go Vol 2.)
This is that DDR psych cover of 'She's Not There'. I may have mentioned this before, but I don't know if I have made fully clear how awesome it is.

EIGHTEEN Kate Bush 'Suspended in Gaffa' (from The Dreaming)
It is astonishing to think that only a couple of years ago had I never heard this song, one that shows off wonderfully Bush's range and songwriting capability.

SEVENTEEN Dexy's Midnight Runners 'I Couldn't Help It If I Tried' (from Searching For The Young Soul Rebels)
It was probably this song showing up on a magazine compilation that convinced me of the amazing majesty of the Dexy's.

SIXTEEN Electrelane 'Gone Darker' (from Axes)
The train song. Feel the power of the train.

FIFTEEN Ladytron 'True Mathematics' (from Light & Magic)
The opener to that album, which is probably why it pips so many of the other tracks therefrom here. It has that endearing robotic beat one loves about the Tron.

FOURTEEN Asha Bhosle & Chorus 'Dum Maro Dum' (from Beginner's Guide to Bollywood)
This has a crazy Hare Krishna style chorus, and comes from some film called Hare Rama Hare Krishna.

THIRTEEN Asha Bhosle 'Yeh Mera Dil Yaar Ka Diwana' (from Beginner's Guide to Bollywood)
This song is a psych-disco-funk explosion. Someone asked me who Asha Bhosle was the other day, and I said "the most famous Indian singer in the world". I felt a bit like a know-all.

TWELVE Joe Meek 'I Hear A New World' (from I Hear A New World)
Meek produces some geezer singing about how he hears a new world, with backing vocals by squeaky voiced aliens.

ELEVEN Shakira 'Wherever, Whenever'
Imagine if she was at your feet.

TEN Ladytron 'Seventeen'
There is something great about songs where the lyrics just repeat the same slightly sinister phrases over and over, especially when accompanied by a brutalist electropop backing.

NINE The Fall 'Totally Wired' (from 50,000 Fall Fans Can't Be Wrong)
HI DERE I R TOTALLY TEH WIRED

EIGHT Oktoberklub 'Was Wollen Wir Trinken' (from Das Beste)
Oktoberklub were this regime approved folk-rock outfit in the DDR. Their main lyricist was some senior enough figure in the apparatus, and wrote lyrics for most Ost-Rock bands under a variety of pseudonyms. My beloved maintains that this song uses an old Breton folk tune. The lyrics are new - the usual staring into a bright socialist future stuff. I like it, but a capitalist friend revealed himself to be a true son of the manse by rejecting its forward thinking tones on a recent visit to Carwash Mansions.

SEVEN Sandow 'Born In The GDR' (from Das Beste Aus Der DDR)
I think this was written after the Wall came down. It is an elegy to a lost country.

SIX Berluc 'Hallo Erde – Hier Ist Alpha' (from Das Beste Aus Der DDR)
Berluc seem to have been East German spacerockers. In this track they salute Sigismund Jahn, the first German cosmonaut.

FIVE Talking Heads 'Born Under Punches' (from Remain In Light)
The first track on an album I have been listening to a lot lately. You probably know this song. I had my interest in Remain In Light spiked big time by the description of its recording in Rip It Up And Start Again.

FOUR Roxy Music 'Do The Strand' (from For Your Pleasure)
I wonder sometimes if music might perhaps have peaked with the first three Roxy albums.

THREE Aktuelle Kamera 'A-Musik' (from Das Beste Aus Der DDR)
The East German TV news music.

TWO Public Image Limited 'Public Image' (from Public Image)
PiL's storming first single.

ONE Oktoberklub 'Sag Mir Wo Du Stehst' (from Das Beste and Das Beste Aus Der DDR)
My Favourite Song In The World! In this one Oktoberklub informally ask you where you stand – are you going forwards or back, are you with us or with them? You must choose, brother, you must choose. It is a wonderfully uplifting tune, with very cheery lyrics, so long as you forget they are about drumming up compliance with a nasty dictatorship.
So yeah, this is available as a CD-R to anyone weird enough to want it. I would be interested in hearing what iTunes or its equivalent thinks are YOUR most liked tunes. If you have a blog, post this information there and leave a comment here linking to it.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Executive Outcomes

I have been a bit quiet lately. Spy School had some things they wanted me to do. I cannot go into details, you know how it is. The matters have been now been dealt with, and I expect to resume normal posting shortly.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Killer Watt

Borag Thung. I was at a reunion for my old school recently (where recently is a couple of months ago). It was an odd experience, talking to people whose lives seem far more conventionally successful than mine. I did however meet one of my old pals who reminisced about all the 2000 ADs I used to bring into school with me to corrupt the other children. Great days.

IPC seem to be joining the reprint mania that is sweeping the comics world, with their Complete Judge Dredd series now being up to volume 7 or some such. Even more exciting, though, is the news that they have brought out volume one of The Complete Nemesis The Warlock, which compiles books one to four of the title (i.e. the good ones). I am particularly looking forward to re-reading the never reprinted book two, the one with the weirdo giant spiders. Retro nerd heaven awaits.

"what have you done to the weather, you asshole!"

I remember my old flatmate telling me about this guy in America called Al Nino, who from time to time gets people ringing up and shouting abuse down the phone at him because he personally has broken the continent's weather system. I thought he was making it up. I was wrong.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

David Ervine

I was sorry to hear of the death of David Ervine. Whatever else you might say about this paramilitary thug turned respectable politician, he was not a whiny, self-important windbag. The BBC's Mark Simpson remembers him here: Grandstand memories of 'man of peace'

Competitive Yoga

Apparently there is some talk of making yoga a sport in the next Olympic Games, or so says Kathy Phillips in a grumpy article about the state of yoga today. There is an element of yoga rockism to her scoving at Geri-yoga, but I think she is right to salute real-deal yoga as a path to psychological harmony rather than flat tummies. I also salute her love of yoga classes focussed on inversions rather than endless up-dogs and down-dogs.

Yoga has been on my mind a bit lately, and I have been thinking that it is time I re-embraced the path of bendiness. I have maybe been fortunate in my teachers, in that I do not really recognise the yoga chancers that Phillips goes on about - the classes never seemed like a pile 'em high exercise. So shout outs to Lisa, Greg, and Rani.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

"Madder than Max, Dirtier than Harry"

The Internet has failed me... I wanted to write a post about THE ELIMINATOR, the greatest Irish film ever made, but there does not seem to be anything up there about it. Crucially, there are no images of it anywhere, so I cannot regale you with pictures of members of an unspecified paramilitary organisation battling against an accidentally reanimated army of zombies. So you will just have to take my word on its greatness.

Eliminator director Enda Hughes went on to make the chortlesome short Flying Saucer Rock 'n' Roll, in which Ardal O'Hanlon battles an alien invasion of 1950s Northern Ireland. After that he apparently remade Battleship Potemkin as Comm-Raid Potemkin, in the style of a three minute long video game. This never seems to have made it to the IFI so I have never seen it.

Where is this genius of Irish cinema now? Why have the face criminals who run this country prevented his films from receiving a video or DVD release? It is an unjust world when enjoyable fluff like FATAL DEVIATION is readily available for sale on the interweb while Enda Hughes' masterworks remain unseeable.

Film Ireland article on The Eliminator: Alternative Ulster

Swedish article on The Eliminator: Vad är detta? The Eliminator!

Last Night I Dreamt That Nobody Loved Me

The other night I had a dream that I was Saddam Hussein, in the execution chamber, about to be killed. I was doing a lot of time-wasting in the hope that something would happen to prevent the inevitable. It did not.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Continue to let the dice roll!

I have just discovered that there are millions of those I WAS A GOBLIN! articles on Freaky Trigger, with the others being set to link backwards and forwards to each other in a satisfying manner. Check out episode one here: Introduction

Those of you who know me through Spy School will understand how all this is greatly helping me advance towards completion of current espionage assignments.

Officially Fish

Capaybaras are the world's largest rodents. The Catholic Church classes them as fish so that people can eat them on fast days.

More Capybara action. And more. And make sure to check out the Perpetual Capybara Machine

"I'm not talking to you any more. Go away."

Man travels around Ireland trying to communicate solely through the medium of Irish, with predictable consequences: Cá Bhfuil Na Gaeilgeoirí?

Sympathy for the Record Industry

Martin Kettle mourns the passing of US chain Tower Records: Going off the record . There is definitely something to this, to the idea that record shops, and in particular big record shops with a wide range of stock, are an important part of the music purchasing mosaic. I do not think online sellers can throw stuff at people in quite the same way, nor even can small, specialised shops.

I am lucky to live in a city where the local Tower Records cut loose from the global chain some time ago. It still gives the impression of being a shop for people who like music, whereas HMV has become a discount DVD hell hole.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Let the dice roll!

Attention nerds! Internet superstar Tom Ewing is discussing fantasy role playing games on the games part of Freaky Trigger. It is the kind of thing you would find interesting if you like that kind of thing. Latest installment: I WAS A GOBLIN: There is another world, there is a better world

I played a role playing game with Tom once. It was not a FRP thing but a diceless narrative game set with a mid-19th century Victorian setting. Great days, Gay, great days.