Thursday, June 19, 2008

v/a "Welsh Rare Beat"

This is a Finders Keepers compilation of eclectic weirdo stuff released on some Welsh language record label, Sain or something like that. Yet again I have to marvel at the high quality and varied styles of music with Welsh-language lyrics. I reckon that of all the Finders Keepers records knocking around Heyte Mansions these days, this is probably my favourite, just for the total quality of what it features.

See also The Crazy Sounds of Finders Keepers

Sometimes I wonder why the Irish-speaker scene in Ireland has never produced anything other than tradders.

Finders Pandas

A special service for special customers

The Irish Independent reports that Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary has announced that planned transatlantic flights will offer a premium "beds and blow jobs" service to customers willing to fork out €4,000 to €5,000 fares. The remarks were apparently made somewhere in Germany, before an audience. It is not clear whether Mr O'Leary will be personally performing this service to Ryanair's most valued customers.

EDIT - my correspondent "Chocolate Socialist" has apparent footage of the press conference here, and links to a report in the German press here


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Toto "Past to Present 1977-1990"

I bought this, came home, and put it on to play, all without saying anything to Mrs Panda. She thought initially that I had gone mad, until she recognised opening chords of 'Africa'. Then she realised that I had gone mad in a good way. This album features a lot of less thrill powered later Toto tunes, but you can't really knock 'Africa'. Well, you could, but you would be wrong, as anyone who listens objectively to the drums coming in on the first chorus will vouch.

Aside from its awesomeness as a tune, a big part of the appeal of 'Africa' is that we are going to that fascinating continent soon, in particular to Ethiopia. Wikipedia reports that Toto became very popular in Africa following their success with the song. There is no citation for this contention, but I am hoping that learning all the lyrics to the tune will help me to get down with the people there.

Hurry boy, it's waiting there for you.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

oh yeah, wasn't yesterday Bloomsday?

Or maybe it is tomorrow. Or next month. Anyway, what better way to commemorate it than by looking at a film of James Joyce and Samuel Beckett playing pitch and putt? You can do that by going to Slugger O'Toole

As you can see, I have not worked out how to post my own direct links to YouTube things.

Orphaned Birds Taught To Sing

RSPCA centres are teaching orphaned baby birds how to sing, using CDs (of birds singing). It is very important for male birds to be able to sing, as they need to be able to do this to defend territory and find a mate. It is not clear whether the RSPCA's programme may accidentally teach female baby birds how to sing, leading to an outbreak of bird feminism.

More (click on the link, it has film of little baby birds being taught how to sing)

v/a "Paul Watts' Best of 2007"

You may know Paul Watts, bon viveur and man about town. We swapped 2007 round-up CDs (which had no songs in common). I reckon he probably hated mine, but I found much to recommend here, notably the Battles song, the Von Südenfed song, and an engagingly yeow! track by High On Fire. A lot of the rest sounded like the kind of warptronica that many people I know love. Listening to it all here I started thinking that maybe I like it too.

Oh yeah, maybe I should post about my best of 2007 CD. Or maybe not.

Panda Watts

Monday, June 16, 2008

God Dog Donates Most of Fortune to Charity

Trouble is a little dog who was left $12 million by rich property tycoon Leona Helmsley. However, Trouble has, through his trustees, pointed out that this money is far more than he needs to eat all the bones he wants and live a thoroughly comfortable life. $10 million of this sum is therefore being transferred to a Ms Helmsley's charitable foundation.


Caravan "In The Land of Grey and Pink"

I met my old pal Mark W in record shop when I was buying something else, and he said I should buy this as well. Having listened to this record (a product of something called The Canterbury Scene), I can see it as being not without merit, but I suspect it is not fated to long remain in Panda Mansions.

Scenester Pandas

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Comics Roundup 15/6/2008

100 Bullets # 100, by Brian Azzarello and Eduaro Risso

I can no longer remember how the characters relate to each other and what they are meant to be doing, so a lot of this is semi-incomprehensible, the main story in particular. The subplot about the kiddie gangsters has more coherence. That said, the art is still very likeable, and for all that the main story might not make much sense on its own, I was still able to roll along with it.

This issue contained an excerpt from some new Vertigo title called Air, by G. Willow Wilson and M.K. Perker, which seems to be about an air hostess. It seems sufficiently interesting that I might give the first issue a go, perhaps because I am getting sufficiently excited about my forthcoming trip to Ethiopia to find anything flight-related fascinating.

Star Wars: Rebellion # 14, by Jeremy Barlow and Colin Wilson

I feel like this title is my secret shame, as there is something very sad about reading Star Wars comics. It was the Colin Wilson art that sucked me into this; older readers may remember his work in 2000 AD, where he crafted an endearingly wreck-tech look for Judge Dredd and Rogue Trooper. His style suits well all the Star Wars stuff, with everything looking just a little bit grotty at the edges. The story is by no means awful, but this is a title I buy for the art; as Wilson is leaving with this issue I will be able to put this sordid part of my life away. For now.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Problem of work, free time solved

I now have a Facebook account.

Portishead's Second Album

As you know, Portishead are back! I have not heard the new album (their third) yet, but I did recently acquire a copy of their untitled second. It is from ages ago. One of the things everyone has been too polite too mention is how ill-regarded it was when it came out. Listening to it now you can maybe see why this was so – it is perfectly grand, but it does not really have any of the tracks of total genius that the first one served up. It is, nevertheless, still perfectly functional.

Hungry Pandas

Friday, June 13, 2008

Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring"

This was of course the headline act at the National Concert Hall. My beloved mentioned that having two other pieces of normal music by other people on beforehand was good for pointing out just how out there the Rite of Spring is. One of the other pieces had a great eccentric pianist from central casting doing his stuff.

Everyone was very excited by the Rite of Spring. The conductor seemed pleased that no one had punched anyone out during the performance. It could almost have happened – there were some people sitting near me who gave the impression they might have been planning some chit chat during the performance.

During Stravinsky's life, I think it was The Firebird that people went on about more, to such an extent that he came to really resent being known as Igor "Firebird" Stravinsky. Now, though, I reckon it is The Rite of Spring that people go on about. It's easy enough to see why - there has never been a riot at a performance of The Firebird, though this can be rectified.

Pagan Panda

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Live in Whelan's: Japanese New Music Festival

This featured some guy from RUINS and Kawabata from Acid Mothers Temple, performing separetly and together. The RUINS guy played drums on his own, and was a great server of "Is this music?" style excitement. Kawabata's solo set was the kind of thing he does solo, bowing away on his guitar to make funny versions of Acid Mothers Temple tracks, notably 'Pink Lady Lemonade'.

I was not quite so convinced initially by the two of them playing together… I started thinking that this is what Phish might sound like. However, they launched into their weird vocal stuff towards the end, which was both funny and musically fun at the same time, leading to a happy ending for all.

Acid Mothers Panda image source

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Planxty "After The Break"

One of Mrs Panda's records. See Planxty drinking game… after one song featured a soldier disguised as a beggar getting it on with a farmer's daughter my liver demanded that I take the record off.

Mr & Mrs Panda image source

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Films I Want To See

These are the current films I would like to see.

Iron Man
I may have missed the bus on this, as it is only on during the day in Dublin's cinemas, but maybe I will catch it at the weekend.

Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamao Bay
I love the idea of a stoner comedy politicised enough to even mention the USA's Caribbean torture camp.

After Cave of the Yellow Dog and Tale of the Weeping Camel I am a sucker for Mongolian films, though I suspect that this one (a biopic of Genghis Khan) may have less cuddly animal & cute kid action.

Sarker Raj
I know nothing about this except that it is from India.

Joy Division
Apparently this documentary covers familiar ground to the Control feature, but I missed that. In any case, I reckon the subject matter is better served by the documentary format.

That's about it. I think tomorrow night will by Harold & Kumar night. Dude!

Things I Hope Never To Hear #1

Apparently Bono has recorded a version of Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah'. Maybe he could release it as a double a-sided single with an a capella version of Tim Buckley's 'Song To The Siren'.

Live in Tripod: The Fall

Wow, this was ages ago. Check with Kevlol for an in-depth review. I can only mention drunken ramblings and an infernal racket – everything you want from a Fall gig, although the presence of so many haircuts in the audience was rather baffling.

I unfortunately cannot remember the name of the support band, but they were strikingly rubbish, combining all the worst features of the Happy Mondays and Oasis.

Mark E. Panda image source

Monday, June 09, 2008

Sex Secrets of the Panda

A BBC natural history team have produced some exciting footage of wild Pandas and their courting practices. Apparently the lady Panda typically hides up a tree, while male Pandas fight each other for her favours.


Walter Kubiczeck "Amiga A Go-Go Vol. 3: Deutsch-Demokratische Soundtracks"

Walter Kubiczeck is some guy from East Germany who wrote music for that lost country's TV programmes. The first track of his I heard was 'Tentakel', the theme from the cop show of the same name. The tune shows up on several of the East German compilations I have, and is always a highlight. It is the kind of sassy horns-driven groover that would make a perfect soundtrack to some polyester suited cop's trudgings down Karl Marx Allee as he hunts down class enemies or various kinds of economic criminal. Now the people who re-issue stuff from Amiga, the DDR's record label, have brought us a whole album of his music. And great stuff it is too, conjuring up a world of socialist policemen kicking in doors to Marzahn apartments and snarling lines like "Mein Kamerad, Sie werden genommen!" before turning to a former East German woman's athlete to say "Und mein liebchen, du sollst deine Kleidungen anziehen!"

Stasi panda image source

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Comics Roundup 8/6/2008

Ahoy there mateys. There's not much for the cap'n in this week's bag.

Criminal #3, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips

Just to be confusing, Criminal decided to restart at #1 recently. As you know, Criminal is a comic that deals with the exploits of the less law abiding members of society. This issue, and the two preceding it, have all notionally been stand alone issues, though they are actually all telling a broadly similar story from different points of view. This one would perhaps be the most problematic to read on its own; you can infer a lot of what is going on, but earlier episodes gave you more. The story is following a woman who has been treated cruelly as she gears up for revenge against her enemies. If you've read the previous issues you know what that revenge will be and what will come of it.

Final Crisis #1, by Grant Morrison and J.G. Jones

I mentioned this last week. Now I am mentioning it again, after a lot of people said I should re-read it. So I did. I still think it is totally lacking in thrill power, or at least not the kind of thing I have any interest in reading more of. The problem is not that the story is so continuity heavy as to be incomprehensible, but more that you would have to care somewhat about the DC Universe to get any enjoyment from this. I do not, but many other people do.

Final Panda image source

Live in Whelans: Chromehoof

People spoke highly of these fellows' performance at Christmas ATP, so I decided that I ought to check out their concert in Dublin. Describing their physical appearance should give an idea of what they sound like – there are loads of them, some men and some women, they play a variety of musical instruments, moving beyond the usual instrumentation of rock, they wear silvery capes (sometimes with hoods up), and they typically sport face make-up. They have a singer, who wore a different cape to everyone else and also had different face make-up.

I bought their album at the concert. It is so enjoyable that you can almost hear the capes. Their album is called Pre-emptive False Rapture.

It is possible that the band's name is actually Chrome Hoof

One annoying thing about the concert is that they were for some reason also selling CDs by MY ENEMY, Printed Circuit ( a one person band comprising Claire Circuit, known to her friends as Claire Broadley). This was annoying because about a month previously I purchased Printed Circuit's second album, and the facist still has not sent it to me, despite numerous "where's my CD?" e-mails.

caped panda image source

Friday, June 06, 2008

A quick theatre review

I went to see The Wonderful World of Dissocia this evening in the Project, this being a play by Anthony Neilson, produced by Calypso, a theatre company who like to deal with Issues. The first part was great, a crazily absurdist set of escapades through the strange land of Dissocia. I think the writer fluffed it with the second (and much shorter) part. This basically revealed that the main character is mentally disturbed, with the funny stuff in the first section being the product of her fevered imagination. Yawn - this is basically the grown-up equivalent of "And then she awoke and it was all a dream".

I was also annoyed to read in the programme that the lead actress owns a dog who can trampoline. Why was this wonder not included in the play?

I still recommend the play highly, and not just because it contains nudity, scenes of a sexual nature, and a polar bear. It finishes tomorrow, so you'll have to hop to it.

image source

Two More Discs of Ethiopian Music

v/a Éthiopiques 8: Swinging Addis
Alèmayèhu Eshèté Éthiopiques 22: Alèmayèhu Eshèté

Two more Éthiopiques CDs, acquired by my beloved to help get herself jazzed up before she goes out to Ethiopia. I have at this stage maybe listened more to the Swinging Addis one, as it is a bit different from the usual Éthiopiques fare, being more psychey beaty than jazzy. That said, as with much of the series, I am still able to discern certain similarities between the music here and and the reggae music of Jamaica. Am I the only person to have ever suggested a musical link between Jamaica and Ethiopia?

Later… the Swinging Addis disc is maybe a bit unrepresentative of the total Éthiopiques, but it is a bag of fun, and I reckon its psychey sounds deserve a hearing outside those who aren't turned on to jazz. My favourite track here would have to be 'Hasabé' by Ayalèw Mèsfin, a tune you could really imagine shaking dance floors in B-Music style psych clubs. The various tracks by Alèmayèhu Eshèté are also entertaining; he is known by some as the Ethiopian James Brown, mainly because he grunts a lot.

Swinging Pandas

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Alcohol and Music – friend or foe?

I have a mixed record with Jimmy Cake gigs – I often seem to be a bit *tired* and so find them hard to get into. This concert (in the Button Factory, formerly Temble Bar Music Centre) did not in some ways gel for me; arriving late having already had a few after work sherries might not have helped. That said, I was impressed by the music I heard, much of which seemed to come from their new album. The Cake seem to be pursuing a more piano-keyboard driven approach these days than previously, which could make their new album rather different to the ear than the earlier ones. I generally fear change, though this time round – I like it.

Thirsty Pandas

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Damascus, City of Wonders

Damascus is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world (though this is disputed by Byblos/Jbeil in Lebanon and Jericho in Palestine). The BBC reports that it also houses the world's largest restaurant. The Damascus Gate seats over 6,000 diners, and seems to be the ultimate application of fordist mass production to the preparation and serving of food. Its proprietor, Muhammad Samman, insists that although his eatery is effectively a food production line, there is no compromising on quality. "In this part of the world, all people care about is their stomachs, so the food has to be the best."

I really must go to Syria.


I saw The Ex yet again

You know The Ex and their progressive punk sounds? Everyone loves them. Actually, they are so good that it is debateable what they really have in common with punk music anymore. That's not meant to sound like punk music is rubbish or anything, but you get the idea.

They have stopped selling Éthiopiques CDs at their concerts, and seem to be concentrating on selling their own recordings. A startling development, I'm sure you will agree.

Punk Pandas

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The fierceness of the Tasmanian Devil

I have mentioned Tasmanian Devils before, most recently in connection with Cedric, the one who may yet prove their saviour.

If you remain unconvinced by their fierceness, click here. Daev Walsh of Blather has some photographs of the TDs going about their business; they are not for the faint-hearted.

Traumatised Pandas Calmed Down By Bamboo

As you know, Sichuan province in China recently endured a massive earthquake. That province houses the Wolong Panda Reserve, and the Pandas there were apparently very upset by the natural disaster. The Chinese authorities have evacuated them to Beijing, and are attempting to help them over their upset by giving them lots of bamboo. And hugs.

Would you like to know more?

Live Jazz: Francesco Turrisi's Tarab

This was in the John Field Room of the National Concert Hall. Mr Turrisi is some young Italian jazzer, and his Tarab is a group he has thrown together with some other jazzers, some also foreign and some local. I will throw out their names, so that people can mock me for not recognising any of them who are in fact incredibly famous. On tambak (a funny Iranian percussion Johnny) and some kind of bodhran like thing, there was Birjam Jiriani. On oud, there was Ronan Bunca (apparently searching for him on YouTube reveals some amazing oud solo action). Gabriel Mirabasi (?) played clarinet, and local jazz star Ronan Guilfoyle played bass. Turrisi himself was on piano. The prospect of oud action was the draw for us, and we did get some oud action. There was also a fair bit of clarinet-piano duelling, and some great jazz-face action. I also liked the snake charmer movements of Mr Mirabasi, and the general lack of "and now it's time for your solo" jazz wankery. So yeah, great gig, and one that reminded me of how I need to see more jazz.

Crotch City Panda

Monday, June 02, 2008

As always, ahead of the curve

Radiohead The Bends
Radiohead OK Computer

An alarm went off when I bought these two records, as it is now the case that everyone in the world has a copy of them. They are not completely new to me, both containing tunes I have heard before. This initial familiarity may have contributed to the slight disappointment I got from both of them, especially from The Bends. Ultimately, I am more enamoured of Kid A & Amnesiac era Radiohead, and to an extent only like these two older ones as steps along the road to the band's more angular work. There may also be the passage of time to consider.

What do you reckon, should I pay a load of money to go and see them next weekend?

sad Panda image source