Saturday, 20 December 2008

All right, all right, you CAN have my albums of the year

So yeah, after years of bitching about Metro's rhetorical asking me for my albums of '05 to '07, I'm now ungratefully bored of submitting '08 lists that'll actually get published. That said, probably less people read them than read this, there's that whole narcissism thing, and, um, I'm bored. Why not put yours up, if you're some sort of vain cunt too?

1. of Montreal - Skeletal Lamping.

Yeah, I like this quite a lot. Here is a review I wrote of it. Shame it didn't quite get the same reception as Hissing Fauna... - the main criticism seemed to be that Kevin Barnes had gone 'too far', which seems inherently daft to me - but the band seem to be pretty popular these days so swings and roundabouts, like.

This is a song by of Montreal called 'Id Engager'

2. Fuck Buttons - Street Horrrsing

Obsession with Hung and Power as people now slightly waning (too many hoodies! turning up at the drop of an envelope! fact we probably can't REALLY top the whole pearly king thing without actually breaking the law), but this album remains super-duper, only British thing I've really liked this year.

'Bright Tomorrow' - directed by none other than Andrew 'Andy Hung' Hung

3. Deerhunter - Microcastle/Weird Era Cont.

I do think the main reason for Microcastle's popularity is that it's less challenging than Cryptograms, and not necessarily in a great way, but Weird Era Cont., the free bonus album, is genuinely amazing.

Oh god I just worked out how to embed YouTube vids. My mind is blown. Wow. 'Twilight At Carbon Lake'

4. Women - Women

Being a citizen of the world (and an upstanding one at that) I am not going to let the fact this has only technically come out in the US thus far stop me putting it in this ill defined list of no professional import or interest.

A much nicer version of 'Black Rice' than the last one I put up, oh yes.

5. Atlas Sound - Let The Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel
A fun thing about being a music journalist is that you get to meet your heroes and discover they're complete dicks. Bradford Cox, I have discovered, is not a nice man, neither does he have a particularly cohesive grip on reality, but he's still a genius and satisfyingly prolific.


6. Parts & Labor - Receivers
Discovered all their back catalogue this year. Good. This is good too. Yeah.

There is not a single official video or great live performance of anything off this record on my new bitch YouTube, but this 'Wedding In The Wasteland' is sort of okay if you ignore the vocals.

7. No Age - Nouns
Yeah man. 'Sleeper Hold' makes me want to high five things.

This TV show looks rubbish.

8. Times New Viking - Rip It Off
Once you realise you have to turn the volume down by about a third, this is just the funnest lo-fi pop record.

'Teen Drama' - once they stop dicking around it's probably actually quite a lot more clearly recorded than the album version.

9. Portishead - Third
Urgh, why have I even set myself up to write these comments? I like this album for the exact reasons stated in every end of year poll it's scored in.

Sadly that dreadful little Jools Holland man crops up here, as official video to 'Machine Gun' is 'disabled by request'. I'm souring on this whole deal already.

10. Islands - Arm's Way
As far as I'm aware only two people like this record, me and James from DiS. And I possibly like it more because I have fond memories of listening to it in the Arctic. But that can be enough, can't it?

Wow, an actual music video. Goddamn multi-millionaire rockstars.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Man pulls funny faces; 24 years later another man is impressed

So if you're all very good this will be the last post I make about Talk Talk... BUT ANYWAY... I'd been doing a wee trawl through their synthpop stuff (pretty trite and cheesy compared to what came later, but still pisses over entire New Romantic movement... god Spandau fucking Ballet fuck me off, like, I get most 80s hits, but 'Gold' is terrible, like the theme from Record Breakers crossed with a wank) and I honestly don't think I've ever heard of the song 'Such A Shame' or, to the point, it's attendant video. WELL HERE IT IS, fresh off some weird German 80s internet channel:

No matter what you think of the song (I like it, definitely their best early track, uses synthetic sound for legitimate musical effect, rather than novelty/drama/because they couldn't afford real instruments), but I think this video is amazing.

Like, I'm a total sucker for over-stylised movement, but it's like he doesn't have any control of his face at all... I could come up with some sort of theory about what it all means and not even really believe it myself, but I'd rather leave it thinking it's sort of non-judgementally highlighting the grotesquery inherent in performance, but not directly making an actual statement. Think Talk Talk were too classy to be mocking the concept of music videos/lip-synching in general, but this must have shitted up yer average 1984 MTV fan. Either that or it's just about LOL-ing at the man with the funny face.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

So I watched the final of X-Factor...

Yeah, so I was feeling kind of peaky on Saturday and sacked off Vivian Girls and instead watched the X-Factor final with my housemates. NOT THAT I NEED TO JUSTIFY MYSELF, YEAH? I mean, in a week's time I'll be an ex-Bristolian, really it was me being benevolent.

So anyway, when I've previously watched X-Factor or American Idol it's kind of been an attempt to find, y'know, a soulman or a diva in a relatively old school, 50s to 70s style vein, and then sort of sculp them as appropriate (which actually I suppose is what happened in the 50s to 70s). This was, though, deep 90s shit man. Both the curious little Irish guy named Eoghan Quigg and the very odd looking boy band thing (on a scale from 'most' to 'all' wonder how many of them let Walsh touch them with his soggy paws?) both sang in that very curious sort of slightly gentle, slightly nasal post Boys II Men vocal style that was so beloved of also-ran boybands and male solo artists in the late 1990s.

I only actually caught the last song of each, maybe it was different elsewhere, but it just seemed incredibly bizarre and anachronistic for these judges to be so apparently moved by something so painfully dated. I suppose for Cowell, Walsh and Minogue it was a reminder of a simpler, happier time (while in Cole's case it probably just stood as confirmation of the fact she hates her own music), but in a peculiar way I actually found the whole thing a little tragic - it's stating the bleeding obvious to say they're using the bells and whistles of a TV show to substitute for the fact that these artists probably wouldn't stand much of a chance on their own, and blah blah blah, there are huge sums of money flying around for all in general, but I dunno, so much effort to create something so small, like millions of pounds and man-hours put in just so that the judges can feel comfortable being moved by bland throwbacks.

Oh yeah, and since I started writing this there has been some hooplah over the X-Factor winner singing 'Hallelujah'. Firstly, to provide a commercial break, I shall drop in the video of the biggest loser in all this: John Cale. Everyone knows the song was written by Cohen (who must by now have made enough to BUY his own Buddhist monastery by now or whatever) and everyone knows the Buckley version, but poor Mr Cale has received precious little props for his vocal arrangement (the one Buckley and X-Factor used) and is presumably making dick all money from the thing. Well, here is his version of 'Hallelujah', up on an obscure blog that has to date been viewed approximately 340 times, probably most of them being me when I log in.

So yeah, these petitions to get Buckley up the charts, reclaim 'our' song from the darkside - wankers, the bunch of them. Sue there are some very lovely versions of 'Hallelujah' out there, but the fact is that over the last few years the song has made its own cultural crossover independent of the machinations of Cowell's evil empire; sure a lot of that was to do with Shrek 2 (the Rufus Wainwright version) but the fact is it's just better known by people like TV producers/the people whio were teenagers when Grace came out have more sway on the media, so it gets used as an emotional background song in TV shows, football highlights, etc... the idea that Buckley's version is 'ours' is pure fallacy.

Don't want to make some boring comments about class warfare here (eg X-Factor version haters being middle class snobs), as I don't really believe that's the case, but the fact is anyone has a right to make a shitty cover of whatever song they please, and the suggestion that 'Hallelujah' should be special when it crossed the cultural line into yuppie product a few years ago is just bollocks. I'm sure the fact that Buckley managed to idiotically drown himself is a major reason for people thinking his signature song should be untouchable but it's not, it shouldn't be, and no song should be.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Unemployment and me

So I suppose everybody (INSERT GENERIC SELF-MOCKERY ABOUT BLOG'S LIMITED READERSHIP) expected me to write some absurdly melodramatic entry about my departure from Metro directly after the event (myself included) but actualy it still feels like a total non-event, a particularly expansive weekend or something. This is a good thing, as I was vaguely concerned that in some way I needed Metro, that I'd been kidding myself that I'd be okay leaving, that without the daily batting out of 250 word previews of obtuse Welsh-language theatre productions and grumbling about a computer system named Atex, my life would disintegrate into some sort of amorphous, directionless blob.

But nah, if I'm hardly in-demand and highly paid, I appear to have retained enough clout that people keep sending me free music. Especially when that's so hard to come by these days. Heck, aside from the minor fact that I'm homing in on the end of my 20s with no job, no prospects, the vague suspicion I frittered the last four years of my life away, and a false sense of financial security instilled only by redundancy pay that I'm about to fritter away on a ludicrous expedition to Russia, I'm basically a god. Bow down to me you fucking peasants.

Here is some stuff I have been doing. Prepare to be astounded.

1. Getting into Women.

Not the ladies, you understand. What, parents, YOU read this? Oh, don't worry, I'm not one of those gays (I'LLGIVEYOUGRANDCHILDRENONEDAYPLEASEAPPROVEOFME), just I can't bring myself to render my tangled but ultimately crushingly mundane lovelife onto these pages. Not yet, anyway.
Er, anyway, after the initial buzz of Crystal Castles had worn off, I was a little concerned that I might not have gotten embarrassingly excited about any Canadian bands this year. Thank the lord for Calgary types Women, then. If you happen to read any issue of Plan B for the next seven years, you'll find something or other written on them by me, but they are very awesome, here is Black Rice, their pop song:

2. Thinking mean things about the dead.

A regular pastime, but I was wandering past a roadside memorial the other day and I looked at the picture of the deceased and I just thought "that guy looks like a dick". I didn't think "I'm glad he'd dead", so my sensitivity has definitly come on in leaps and bounds, but it was some muscly dude in a body-builder's pose, and y'know, I didn't find myself welling up. And can you have retrospective hubris? 'Coz he clearly wasn't that hard.

3. Thinking insensitive things about popular media figures.

Baby P would be a solid hip-hop name, you have to admit.

4. Being unmoved by the plight of others.

Woolworths was an awful relic of a time best forgot, I'm glad it's gone. No sympathy for the staff, hoping for a career there was tantamount to putting all your money on a two legged horse. That was dead.

5. Getting needlessly worked up about baby food.

That's 'Grandma's Sunday Lunch' flavour, if you can't make it out. The two things that annoy me the most about this product (which I clocked for the first time the other day for some reason or other that's definitely not weird or sexual) are that one, it's a completely pointless lie, insofar as parents are unlikely to be arsed to explain to their months-old sprog the advertising psychology that goes into the inference that this substance was personally hand-mushed by their grandmother (who probably makes shit Sunday lunch anyway), and second, the fact there's no hilarious picture on the front of two drooling simpletons - one a toddler, one a senile octogenarian - both being spoon-fed, side by side, eyes equally devoid of intellect.

6. Going to a lawyer.

For formalities to do with leaving Metro that I'm LEGALLY BOUND NOT TO DISCUSS (I feel adult just writing that) I visited a lawyer for the first time ever the other day. I think she was completely bemused by me, but in fairness to her and the obscene fee she was receiving, she really did try her best to spin it out into something more than just her signing a bit of paper. It was not much like This Life.

7. Making absurd foreign holiday plans.

Given how much I'm going to blather on about my trip while on it I'll spare the gory details here, but basically next year I'm going to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, China, South Korea and maybe Japan, plus Iceland for New Year. Any smugness on my part can of course be counteracted by the knowledge I have basically signed myself up to be bitterly, bitterly cold for the next several months of my life.

8. Getting into Talk Talk.

So basically I'd read all this blah about them inventing post rock and how Spirit Of Eden and Laughing Stock were two of the greatest records ever made, but frankly I think I may have read that in Mojo, so y'know... Plus the only stuff of theirs I'd actually heard was the cheesy synth gubbins from the early days. But anyways, I downloaded both those records last week and, like, whoa there - I just can't believe these things came out of the 80s, they sound like, er, I dunno, like either they always existed or still don't... I'd read 'nuff words about them and still didn't have a clue what they'd sound like before listening, maybe there are no words, but certainly I can't be bothered trying to bash out a description (uh, unless somebody wants to pay me). Anyway, here's probably the most accessible track from either record, Spirit Of Eden's 'Desire', which appears to be where Radiohead got most of the ideas for Kid A from. No pretty moving pictures, sorry, though there is a nice proggy picture of some birds.

9. Not writing a novel.

At the lovely Arike's suggestion, I signed up for National Novel Writing Month, the object of which is to bash out a 50,000 word novel during November. Probably I was always doomed in this, because for the first 20 days of the month I was employed full-time as a writer, I still have shit loads of other music writing to be doing, etc etc etc. But man, I wouldn't personally recommend it - once you sign up you get sent these 'pep-talk' emails from the guy in charge of the month and a few random published novelists, all of whom blast you with horribly self-helpy metaphors about how writing a novel is like being pregnant or whatever (think that one came from a guy, which was well authoritative like), and you just think "FUCK. OFF." Philip Pullman aside I don't think I'd even heard of any of the pep-talkers, and the fact is they're imparting these horribly smug writing tips when they'd almost certainly never contemplate cramming 50,000 words into a month themselves. I dunno, I'd jokily said I'd try and write the whole thing in the ten days of November that I was unemployed, but I was so annoyed by the pep talk emails I didn't even really try. OR THAT'S MY EXCUSE. Anyway, this all sounds really self-justifying, I'm probably just not temperamentally suited to it, the fact is that while I've got numerous fragments and starts of novels on my hard drive, Arike has actually written one in a month and I'm sure it's grrrrrreat. I think it's a thinly-veiled biopic of Mark Ward or something.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Thoughts on the recent voting

I might fill this in more later, but through the haze of a champagne hangover brought on by partying with a bunch of Welsh farmers all night (let it never be said that I don't live la vida loca), I was mildly heartened by the results of this year's MTV Europe Music Awards.

Not meaning to get overly serious about it, but they're basically a fairly grim piece of cultural imperialism, wherein an American music channel comes over to Europe in order to give awards to American pop stars, in a ceremony hosted by an American pop star (or very occasionally Sasha Baron Cohen) and filled with live performances from American pop stars (excruciatingly that generally includes the host). It's kind of sold back to us as if it's 'our' event, but the reality of it is (as I can attest from having had US cable while living in Canada) is that it's basically made as American as possible so that it can be syndicated back to North American TV, and obviously nobody'd watch it if they didn't know who the bands were.

So yeah 2008 ceremony: the categories had names that were so odd names as to basically be meaningless ('Rock Out', 'Most Addictive', 'Ultimate Urban', 'Ultimate Legend' - sound like types of energy drink) and were generally swept by Britney Spears, Lil Wayne, etc etc.

You probably know by now that an elaborate internet voting campaign entirely powered by the British sense of irony saw Rick Astley deemed 'Best Act Ever'. This is funny, obviously, but I think more than "LOL RICK ASTLEY WUN HES CRAP LOL", it's worth thinking about why it's an 'upset'. He was up against U2, which is sort of fair enough, they're the type of band who win awards like that, but then the other three contenders were Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears and Green Day. Quite manifestly none of them are the best act ever: MTV know that, the acts know that, next year different people will be up for the same award and it'll be equally meaningless. Nah, what Astley's win represents is Europeans fucking with MTV and fucking with it good.

This hit what I'd consider the true apex with the 'Headliner' award. No idea what that means (they might as well have called it 'Purple' or 'Hibiscus'), but the losers were a bunch of MTV-friendly veterans - Metallica, The Cure, Foo Fighters... er, Linkin Park. The winners were a German band called Tokio Hotel, who I gather are a fairly shitty emo thing, but still, I'm really, really certain they were chucked in as a token sop to Europe and never actually expected to be voted to victory.

I'm not trying to say any of this is life-changing or even that important, but for whatever reason the MTV Europe Awards always really get on my tits, and like a very very very very minor guerrilla campaign, the good people of Europe have slightly ballsed it up, and that is not a bad thing.

Speaking of voting, go to this - You know what you need to do. Unbelievably as I write this Fuck Buttons are actually in the lead.

Oh yeah, and there was another thing to do with America that some people voted for earlier this week. That turned out pretty well.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Blog mildly annoys The Man; author capitulates almost without asking; is still staring down barrel of unemployment

Ah, discussing work-related matters in a blog. Now there's a hot potato. On the one hand, it's offering one's employer a large electronic stick with which to beat you. On the other, I didn't think anybody outside of my immediate posse actually reads this thing and in any case saw no harm in clearing up a few matters about my impending change of employment circumstances in my trademark, y'know, 'style'. I was incorrect in this assumption, but seeing as how it was intended to explain what's going on and didn't all relate to work nitty gritty, here it is again, presented in glorious self-censored form. Truly I am a hero for free speech. Take solace that one day in the future, cyber-archaeologists may restore it to original glory.

This is how I'd planned it to go down:

This is more how it actually happened (apologies for shitty quality):

But it has happened.

Yes, after writing a blog about how the reversion of the world's economy to a barter-based system was no more meaningful to me than motorsports, I have of course just been [DELETED]. I know, I know, weep ye gods, weep. Er, anyway, as many of you will be aware, I was planning [DELETED] anyway NO REALLY, and thus I've now simply been [DELETED] to do what I was going do already, but still, 'twas a mildly bemusing state of affairs. I suppose it'd be indiscreet to describe matters in explicit detail, but let us just say I was [DELETED]

Anyway, what will our hero do next, you ask? Well, for starters I'm sure I will be notching up, say ten, twenty dozen blogs a day through sheer boredom. I've signed up for National Novel Writing Month (, though seeing as how I'm [DELETED] until Nov 20th, I more or less have to bash out 50,000 words in ten days. WHICH IS ENTIRELY DO-ABLE. I have a vague plan to spend the month of December working through all the recipes in a cookbook in order. I'm going to freelance a lot, if potentially not for vast sums of money, at least to keep papa all stocked up in free gigs and albums. And in February-ish I am going to succumb to the utterly inevitable and move to London and probably clean something for a living, or try to persuade people that because I am part Polish I have mad plumbing skillz and they should give me what pitiful savings they have left. Oh yeah, and Canada - fingers crossed for about 2010, let's hope recession doesn't affect their need for 'skilled' workers, eh..?

And lastly now seems as good a time as any to fuck off and do a bit of travelling, which is sort of my plan for the month of January. And when I say 'as good a time as any' what I mean is 'I'm probably going to go to Siberia in January'. It's always (erm, for about two years) been something of a dream of mine to do the Trans-Siberian Express, and while getting the heave at the coldest time of the year isn't really ideal, there's some pretty cool stuff one can do in that neck of the woods even when the woods are actually just funny shaped blocks of permafrost. In particular this - - looks dubble cool. Current plan is to probably hop on a sort of guided group trek thing as I can imagine shivering in a trainful of Russians on my own might lose its charm after a while and I'm not aware of anybody unbalanced enough to care to join me on this trip... BUT should you fancy an adventure at short-ish notice then do let me know. I'd possibly even be up for an adventure someplace else if it sounded interesting, though I think it's gonna have to be at the start of the year whatever happens due to my needing to do - what was that thing? - oh yeah, piece back together the shattered fragments that once were my life.

Oh well, there's always this option:

Saturday, 4 October 2008

My new girlfriend

Yeah, so I think I've finally met the girl of my dreams, she's really beautiful and well adjus- ah ha! Got you. Of course my life continues to be an empty, loveless shell, the booze and the tears locked in nightly combat over which - if either - will be the one to finally send me drifting off into a fitful void. Ha, you believed me - joke's on you, sucka. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahakillmenowhahahahahahahahahaha.
Erm, but anyway, below is a picture of Vanessa Redgrave, my awesome new combination record player/cassette player/CD player wot I bought off ebay. With her cherrywood body and dignified retro look, I decided she needed a name that evoked both redness and dignity and who is more red or dignified than Vanessa Redgrave? Nobody. Not sure I've ever seen the actual VR act in anything, but I think I get the point. And besides such matters are irrelevant - just yesterday evening me and my good friend Andy Field spend a good 15 minutes debating the pros and cons of Daniel Day Lewis as an actor, before both sheepishly admitting that the only film of his either of us had seen was Gangs Of New York. And it was probably the greatest most intelligent discussion ever, so there.

Obviously if this blog had any sense of dignity I'd have ended with there, a simple way of sharing with you - my loyal, but dispersed readership - the joy that is my new toy. This blog has no dignity.
So the thing is I really fucking hate anybody who claims to be non-materialistic as if it was a virtue.
Frogs are non-materialistic.
Materialism is awesome.
And I'm obviously materialistic: I have a medium-large music collection and a laptop computer, both of which I'd have a stab at saving were a fire to trouble the leafy grandeur of Sefton Park Road. But it occurred to me that prior to purchasing Vanessa Redgrave, I didn't, y'know, particularly like anything I own. Not that I dislike any of it, just that there's no emotional investment; if somebody smashed my laptop up with a hammer, I'd just be quite irritated and buy a new one. I'd be annoyed if somebody threw all my clothes into a vat of acid, but not, y'know, devastated. Even my oft-stated love of Converse is basically laziness more than anything. If I loved them I wouldn't just buy a pair, wear them 'til they fall apart, and then buy another pair, I'd be building up a collection, limited editions, all that gubbins.
Anyway, I don't really know if this means I'm a sociopath, a hippie, a lumbering philistine who simply lacks the refinement required to appreciate the finer things in life, or a chimeric combination of all three.
What I do know is that I probably haven't been as pleased with an object I own as I am with Vanessa Redgrave since maybe an original Breakfast Club poster that I bought in Vegas eight years ago. Don't even know where that is now.
Anyway, blah blah blah, I'm sure I channel my materialism in other ways.
However, the acquisition of a record player that isn't the dilapidated monster in residence at Lukowski HQ: Birmingham has surely given me an inlet into becoming a vinyl junkie, and thus a route back to my discarded humanity. Limited editions, better sound quality... yeah maaaaaaaan.
So I played the various promotional 7-inches I've accumulated over the years. That was okay. The vinyl-only Organ and Fuck Buttons songs I'd been nursing for some time were a bit rubbish, but then again, I suspected they might be.
Then I went on a £5.50 spree on secondhand David Bowie vinyl (Young Americans, Low, Let's Dance, fyi). I was excited for the warmer sound quality. I probably haven't even heard real sound in years. I've just been emptily stumbling through life thinking I could hear music when really it was no more musical than a car screeching, a tramp vomiting. Sounded EXACTLY the same. Maybe Let's Dance was a bit better. Maybe. Probably not.
Then I put on my copy of In Rainbows, which comes on two LPs. Sounds fucking incredible. Genuinely, jaw-droppingly enhances it in a way that no digital remaster I've ever bought has ever done.
So I'm going to become a collector of double vinyl LPs of single albums. It's a small step, but I'm going to become a niche materialist at precisely the point capitalist society falls apart. Fuck you, the fall of capitalist society. I can hear some extra bleepy noises on a Radiohead album.
Customary concluding vid: as I've alluded, Let The Bells Ring by The Organ is basically a slightly meh early Smiths soundalike. However, it's collected on Thieves, an EP of their unreleased work that comes out Oct 13, and at least three of the tracks on it are so good they make me quite angry at the silly broads for massively, massively hating each other. Here are two of said tracks (plus a snippet of Love Love Love, odd editing, innit).

Thursday, 18 September 2008

So, like, the world's ending, yeah?

Don't get me wrong.

Eggs are more expensive. Bread's more expensive. Things are happening in American politics that I have opinions on. Mother nature's plight perturbs me. I am a caring man.

But. This whole collapse of the global economy. Is it bad form not to care? Not as in 'yeah man, I'm a rebel. A REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE. I don't give a shit about the affairs of Johnny Wall Street. That might constitute a cause'.

I just kind of feel a bit like I'm watching a horror film where everybody's running around in terror and concern about an invisible force that's going to make us all poor. Only instead of the invisible force turning out to be a Predator or whatever (incidentally watched the first Predator film again the other day - extra mark for post-Arrested Development Carl Weathers amusement, severe loss of marks because Arnie kills the Predator with THE WORLD'S SHITTEST TRAP), it's a series of really convoluted factors based on people's belief that stuff is worth money. Maybe. Is that how it works? Er, anyway, so I'm sitting there watching all these perturbed stockbrokers on TV, reading quite lengthy articles about it in the paper, even being quite fascinated by it, but I'm just not concerned at all. I mean, I don't have a house, I don't own shares, I don't work in the city, but still, y'know, very successful men in expensive suits are sat there saying 'WE'RE ALL FUCKED, RUN!' and I'm just like 'oh - interesting!'

It's not that I don't understand it (I mean, I don't really understand it), but I dunno, I feel a bit left out, like... y'know how it's not great when somebody gets hit by a car, but it is good to be concerned for said person? I worry that the global economy is that person, something called the sub-prime mortgage fiasco is that car, and I am the callous bastard wandering past thinking 'oh - interesting!'

Anyway, in the interest of being a better person, here is a plan to save the world. This will probably require some pop stars, so if any of you are pop stars, take heed. Basically, we have to write an incredibly catchy global smash - probably kinda AOR/classic rock-ish because it needs to appeal to the type of people who own shares - and the song has to be called something like 'Actually, Everyone You've Invested In Is Doing Really Well, If Anything You Might Even Want To Buy Some More Shares'. And then people will believe that and then we'll all be sorted. Or failing that we'll just get EVERYONE drunk. No thanks necessary, just buy me a pint or something next time you see me.

Failing all that, here is something both implausible and incredibly lovely that won't save the world but it would be nice if it could:

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Bestival via the texts of others; or, a bold and brilliant excercise in avoiding having any more original thoughts on the matter


LH: Oh my god! Severe weather warning was true! Eek!
LH: Not really i'm actually stuck in my tent and i may blow away! And i'm not even drunk!
MP: Jesus. Your hot sauce is a lot more 'respectable' on the way out than the way in.
LH: Ok i'm on the new number now! Have a good journey over! My wellies have a hole in them boo!see ya later lucy x
RM: Hey dis bros its richard. I am so fkn glad i brought wellies!
RM: Hey mick, this is richard, andrzej said i should check with you where yr camping so i could try to get a spot near by, where is yr tipi located?
MN: Course it's cool. It's fucking wet and reports of mud swamps are widespread. But we're British. Fuck the weather. In the bum. Laters xxx
RM: Oops! Silly me sorry
MP: Got us pirate shit from toyshop on the G road. Mick texted&said it's minging
LM: By the way I'm coming. Xx
MP: Guh, Mick txted to say they've gone 'right to the back of Black'..that's,like,as far from the stage as you can get,and Black is 'quiet camping'..stick with em?
KP: Andrzej you cant! Are we allowed to take glass bottles to the camping area or am i on the cider? Please no! It sends me crazy!
KP: Don't let me near the mdma! I've sworn off drugs at the mo and mdma is the worst. Are you there yet?
KP: Na i'm nearly there now. Gimme a shout when you get there x
LM: Red zone next to Bagel Dude is our camp apparently. X x
MP: Yeah I got that too - that's pretty much as far from the main arena as Mick et al,just in the zone opposite..what to do,y'think? Also,the weather here is ok at mo.
MP: Erk,dunno,Mick just said she'll meet me when i arrive,so it sounds like she has made effort frankly..ain't gonna be far to Laura,think maybe we should be nice.
MP: Also,dont fret but if you can get to a cash point in S'oton,a short-term £20 loan to me would be good..realised i'll be down to £50ish after charity non-LOLZ.
MP: WOO FERRY ROFL. This sure ain't no Bothnian Sea playa cruise (not even a toilet LOL)..but holy cow, it goes like shit off a shovel. Speeding vessels ftw.
MP: Also,it takes 25min despite the alarming speed,&the sea is like a violent bogey-green/grey soup. I'm starting to realise what an AWFUL idea swimming would be.
NN: Whoo hoo! Mud's the new black. X
MP: Don't worry about the cash mate,there's a bank machine here on the island.
MP: Ya there's what seems to be a fairly minimal shuttle service running in a loop from outside the Co-Op,which is 3min from station up the hill.OHGODTHERAINCAME.
LH: I spoke too soon about the rain being gone! Boo! See ya later x
MP: Dude,you're gonna have to decant the whiskey or hide it very well - booze is fine but glass a no-no. There's a shop selling water etc when you get off the ferry.
KP: Hey i'm here but totally lost cos networks are all busy so i can't get hold of anyone to dump my stuff in their tent. If i don't ring you before i'll be waiting in the bit nex to the entrance with all the picnic benches & umbrellas ok? X
MW: Hey Andrzej, you coming to this Bestival thing? It's wet. I have combated this by taking nuff drugs.
KP: Ok i'm under a white umbrella near the cafe by the entrance to the festival. X
IHBM: Erm. I think you've got the wrong number.
MW: I'm watching Mary Anne Hobbs in the red bull speakeasy. S'good.
MJ: Nightmare mate. I can't drag the band through the rain. Come to the green room backstage, near artist liason.
LH: Oh yuck just had to buy new wellies! Give me a shout when your done we'll go for a drink and a dance!x
LM: Where will you be for mbv? X
TC: Sorry bad reception! My friends have my bad and are leaving, I might need to get them to drop my bag off with you, is that ok?
MJ: I'm sure that'll be cool. Do it through nileon if you don't mind. Cheers mate
MJ: God i've had enough of this!
LM: Where are you? Look for a clear dome umbrella with pink edge. Xx
LH: Hey where are you?
TC: I'm here, where shall I meet you?
TC: I'm on my own! Call or text when you can x
LH: Big top css next come along woo
SH: Hi- are you here yet / is there room in yr tipi? X
TC: Am in the tent for CSS, at the pillar at the back on th right facing the stage, where are you?
SH: We just got here n watching css so will meet u by the stars after the set
LH: We're right next to the pole
LH: Bottom end standing on some box thing!
LH: Where are you?


LH: We're in skid row what's your plans for the day?
NN: Bit lost - on me way!
NN: There now! x
LH: Hello!i'm at the bandstand and going to watch think!what you up to?x
LH: Come to the wicker mushroom outside bollywood x
LH: Hotchip left had side on the white flooring by the shop!
RM: Hey have yall gone to bed or still partying?
TC: Where are you now? X
TC: If we don't get in touch beforehand, text me a place to meet you for Hot Chip x
CJ: Andrzej u fuck! where r u? x x x x x x x x x x x carlz x x x x x
SH: You watching Florence (1.05)
SH: Yawn. Will c u guys when it's all over. We're watching trapeze artisits in the Florence tent. C u at 2.30? Where?
LH: We're here where are you?
SH: I don't know where that is- we're at continental drifts towards the front on right, come find us fx
SH: Oh god, we r where pete n pirates are- area known as skid row just a bit further towards exit than big top...
SH: Oops sos, it's sut - meet u at the back of the bollywood tent
MW: Where are you now?
MW: Fuck I just left there, am walking to the campsite. You?
MW: I'm in the shelter that looks like a shark at the bottom or red. Find me here.


LM: So... Sorry about yesterday. I basically drank some poison and KO'd for the entire day and night. My battery is very low. What you doing today? X
LM: Bagel dude noon. Nice. X
LM: I'm queueing for a baked spud, 2 up for the bagel dude. X
LH: Main stage down from the shop and the screen look out for a yellow flag! X
LH: Big top same place now!
LH: Big top pillar down from usual look for the big 'I' x
LH: Front right pllar now!
LH: Dada!
LH: Dada right side near the back!


RM: Hey i left pretty early this morning so didn't get a chance to say bye and thanks for super fun festival times! It was great to party with you guys


Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Basically a Bon Jovi fan

So while the only people who actually read this thing will doubtless snort in derision at this statement, I've never really tried to pretend I have particularly cool taste in music.

I mean, I clearly really like the music I'm into to a quite obnoxious, single minded degree, but to co-opt one of them there truisms, the more I know, the more I know I know nothing, and certainly writing for Plan B and, God help me, reading the Plan B forum (it's terrifying, about five people from Glasgow who should probably really just be down the pub together having lengthy discussions about stuff too obtuse to get into the magazine) has taught me that I really do know dick all. Nor, let's be honest, can I be arsed doing so.

But anyway. That's not really the issue. I am probably never going to appreciate free jazz, or even try to appreciate free jazz, it'd be a disaster. The point being that I've met so many people who regard guitar music as rather a gauche concept that it I've accepted the heights of poise and sophistication are never going to be scaled via the medium of indie, but still... some indie bands are more equal than otheres, and my recent headlong love affair with Parts & Labor (who even get saddled with the epithet 'noise band' from time to time, probably by journalists who want to pretend they like noise bands - hell, I'd do it...) at least set me to thinking I could have a conversation wherein I could bluff it that my music taste wasn't basically the same as yer basic American teenage girl (this according to LastFM).

Nope. Nowheres Nigh, the lead track of Parts & Labor's new album Receivers (you can download it here:, sounds like Bon Jovi. I knew this would happen. Obviously I love it and have listened to it about a gazillion times since the album turned up on Saturday, but it's this big polished, anthemic thing that makes me want to swill Bud Light and shout "hell yeah" (it's completely at odds to the seven minute folk drone things that make up the rest of the album, which I've obviously not listened to nearly as much.)

Er, I'm not sure that I really have a point to make here. Maybe that cool is relative or something, I dunno. Erm, but it is basically a case, I have realised, that my essential taste in music revolves around listening to the musical avant garde and then sort of cherry picking the bits that sound like stadium rock anthems - I'm not sure if that makes me a fool or makes Bon Jovi fans narrow minded. Probably a little of both. Oh god, I only really wrote this blog because it was bugging me and I felt vaguely like I should write something having omitted to say owt about Edinburgh or Leeds. They were good. That is all. Maybe I will say something about Bestival. Probably not. As I obliquely waffled in the last blog, I am a man, not a monkey
PS. speaking of which, apparently Sarah Palin genuinely doesn't believe in evolution... I mean for fuck's sake... I'm not actually sure what Bush's views on the subject are, but I suspect he's about as religious as the tinny of Becks Vier I'm drinking, I reckon I could be right in saying she'd be the the first honest to God (ho ho) religious loon in... I've got a horrible feeling that if McCain gets into power she's going to be just as band as Cheney, only with a sort of faux everywoman/country bumpkin shtick replacing the palpable aura of evil.
PPS. I had this thought the other day: 'oh, well, obviously I'm not going to vote for the oleaginous lying cunt, but if David Cameron got in and happened to be able to sort the economy out, I wouldn't actually complain'. Basically as well as becoming a Bon Jovi fan, I've become a Tory. Still, to give one reference to Edinburgh, I rather liked the man the legend Jon Richardson's observation of our PM that 'he's so shit, you know he must have something up his sleeve. Actually, sesing as you've made it to the bottom of this blog, have some Jon Richardson, he's funnier than I am, if you can believe that.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Like some sort of performing monkey - IN OPPOSITE WORLD

Time flows like a river. It really does. Frogs, fronds, fish, all that good stuff. Mmmmm. It's lovely here, in time. But sometimes you flow too far down that river, and you find you're no longer hanging out with sticklebacks, but minnows. Or even pike. Maybe trout.

Yes, what I'm saying is I'm not going to do full lengths on Supersonic or Latitude, too much time has elapsed, it would be cheating everyone involved, most especially you dear reader. Alos I can't be bothered and WHY SHOULD I ANYWAY? EH? The good news is that I wrote pretty much two thirds of the Supersonic one and it's saved on here in draft. So that'll be coming out on the DVD extras. Anyway, here are five one line observations on each by means of closure for me and the two people who asked about the blogs.

1. Damn Parts & Labor are good
2. Damn horse drugs are fun IN MODERATION
3. Damn that Mark Ward, always accidentally killing members of Rolo Tomassi
4. Damn shame about Cutting Pink With Knives splitting up, turns out they were fun
5. Damn it Julian Cope, where were you?

1. Latitude is a magical place where the sheep are multicoloured and abundant
2. Latitude is a magical place where a combination of contacts, gumption and an enchanted red wristband offer you a portal to a 24-hour bar selling magic dust
3. Latitude is a magical place where my belief that Sigur Ros are fundamentally quite dull vanished in a poof of fairy smoke
4. Latitude is a magical place, but all magical places have their villains. It's only with time that I realise those villains were me and Ward
5. Latitude is a magical place where anything that may have happened involving teenagers is probably best left in said magical place, where it was clearly all right and entirely appropriate. Wholesome, even

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

The closest this blog will ever come to winning an award

So yesterday I heard on the grapevine that while researching the important subject of what chemicals were taken during the creation of Meat Puppets II, esteemed music jounalist Noel Gardner performed the Google search 'Meat Puppets MDMA' and this blog came up. Have I ever been prouder? Can't say that I have.
[EDIT: Of course, the internet essentially being one enormous self-fulfilling prophecy, this post has spurred it to number two if you do that search, which though impressive on one level, rather undermines the fact the plucky little chap had previously stumbled there by accident]

In other news (don't worry that this is going to become a daily blog, btw, just squeezing a two for onesie in here), but Christ on a bike, there's a horrible new advert for Exxon in which a sort of all-American scientist type rattles on concernedly about how some piece of glass he's developed is going to save the planet. I don't like it very much. Because he's a lying shit.

Anyway, assuming you're looking at this in sweet sweet blogger rather than drab old Facebook, here is a very fine piece of anti-Exxon rhetoric from the late 80s.

Monday, 28 July 2008

If they cut my salary by 90% I'd probably have to become a hippy or a monk or something

I'd probably be hopelessly over-romanticising our sceptered isle if I were to say 'only in Britain would personnel changes at a quiz show watched solely by students and the unemployed be a source of front page tabloid furore.'

Fortunately I am very ignorant of foreign cultures, most especially their pig-heathen TV shows, so no worries on that score.

So yeah, the Mirror splash today ran 'Countdown Meltdown' and was an account of how Channel 4 had shafted Carol Vorderman by offering her an insulting 90% paycut if she wanted to stay on at Countdown, hence her rather forced decision to jog on.
For my vast foreign readership, Countdown is a daytime quiz show in which nervous looking people in jumpers do maths and word puzzles in the hope of winning a dictionary. Since it began in 1982, Carol Vorderman has served in the role of the show's human calculator, and over the years a combination of improved stylists and our country's monstrously over-developed sense of irony has served to turn her into a sex symbol of sorts. Due to its timeslot and heady combination of being heroically untaxing but with a mild intellectual twist, watching it is pretty much a student rite of passage, and it racks up about 1.5m viewers a day, which is okay. Nobody but family members of contestants has ever recorded an episode to watch later. But it is an institution. We are upset about change. However:

1. If Channel 4 just told everyone Vorderman was still presenting, the people who used to watch the show but don't anymore would be happy. People who actually watch the show would probably be cool with it too - yeah, you might not appreciate being lied to, but - and I'm possibly being optimistic here - I don't think the average student about to embark on a university career actually sits around rocking back and forth in frenzied excitement thinking OMG I'M A STUDENT NOW I'M GOING TO GET TO SEE CAROL VORDERMAN DO TEH NUMBERS!

2. Carol Vorderman will famously lend her level tones and status as the most famous maths, uh, person in the land to almost any cause, notably those dodgy loans a few years back. Does the fact she did basic maths on TV for a long time make up for this? No! A hard rain needs to fall. A HARD RAIN.

3. Carol Vorderman having a paycut is not like you or I having a paycut

4. There are surely other maths people out there who deserve a stab at fame. Yeah, we'll mourn Vorderman for a while, but we don't know any better at the moment, she's had the monopoly. It's time we moved on, saw other people.

5. She's been in the same job for quarter of a century - she needs to move on as much as we do. More.

6. Is she even, like, THAT good at maths? I mean, can she do fractals?

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

A fairly po-faced list about My Bloody Valentine

So I mostly went along to see one of MBV's reunion dates at The Roundhouse because it seemed like the type of thing I ought to do... as much as I'm a fan of Loveless and quite fond of Isn't Anything, I figured it'd ultimately be kind of lovely in a boring way.

In fact what happened was the precise opposite... as it turns out everyone (probably my mum included) apart from me - a music journalist - and Mark Dubya - a man whose nihilistic acceleration into the abyss is made only vaguely predictable by his in depth knowledge of all avant garde music made within John Peel's lifetime - knew that they end their gigs with something called 'the holocaust section', 20-40 minutes of white noise, the volume of which was alleged to be around 130 db, which apparently is about the same as a jet taking off from 100m away. Er, anyway, without being too gushing (I sent a text to Laura describing it as 'sound as beauty as fire as fire as fire'... ahem), it was incredible, so so much so I both went to see them a week later in Manchester with Mark P, but also naturally feel compelled to put up a list of things the holocaust section (by far the best but of the gig) made me think about. Groovy.

1. From a musical perspective, I totally don't know if what happened was any good or not. I mean, probably it was, My Bloody Valentine have one of the best guitarists, like, ever, but I sort of still wonder if it's more a case that the main set was 'music' and the holocaust section is 'art'. Like, could me and three friends do the same if we had the right equipment and Kevin Shields talked us through what to do? Probably not, but y'know... maybe.

2. It wasn't just a blank roar. I mean, I think actually it was just a blank roar, but the physical and psychological impact properly makes you hallucinate: when I saw them at the Roundhouse I thought they'd started up a slowed down version of the riff to Only Shallow, then at the Apollo Mark thought he heard singing... neither true. It's like, if this kind of Niagara of noise makes you imagine pretty things, does that make it pretty music?

3. Could you use music as an actual drug? Especially after the Apollo gig, which had a longer holocaust (about 35 mins) I felt really stoned by the end, while during it I'd found it really hard to tell where the band were on stage, even though they hadn't moved. Because if Kevin Shields actually found a note that gets you high, well, that's your explanation for what he's been doing for the last 15 years.

4. I've never seen any other band do anything like that, which makes me suspect I'm kind of vanilla... I mean, they can't have patented the idea and it's not like it's a song per se, so why wouldn't other people be doing shit like this all the time? Has this big venue reunion tour kind of served to turn something that was way more underground in 1992 into a kind of theme-park of the avante garde? And if nobody's exceeded them, why not..?

5. Given it was all old material it was basically a nostalgia date, but it didn't feel like one at all... is there a certain volume at which nostalgia no longer applies?

6. All reports suggest the section was in fact just as loud as it was in the early 90s. Which is lovely, but it almost saddens me they/nobody is doing anything harder... goddamn health and safety. Though I suppose it's not exactly at the top of most amp manufacturer's lists to design one that kills people. But I guess as a party piece it doesn't exactly have anywhere to go or develop, though I suppose it's not exactly the type of thing you could technically get bored of.

7. Some friends of a friend took pills to watch it. Can't decide if that was the best or worst idea ever.

8. It's going to be really, really funny when they play it at Bestival.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Primavera: a belated and exaggerated summation

DISCLAIMER: this will devastate you, but I am not going to describe the entire holiday. Adventures were had. Adventures that can be found in the fractured runes of what's left of our memory banks. Also in photos. But this will be a straight festival description, because what I would say about describing the entire ten day holiday is that THAT WAY MADNESS LIES.

Day One

Earlier - we were operating under the somewhat flawed belief that the festival was going to be so chronically expensive that we wouldn't be able to afford to drink, and had thus got mildly tanked before turning up. This would arguable come back to bite us later.

The Notwist - However, we kicked things off just the right amount of sozzled, and The Notwist's early set was a lovely way in... a nice warm sun, happily burbling machines... don't think I'll ever think they're an amazing band, but in this context very very nice... mmm... yeah... ahhh...

HEALTH - In my memory it somehow conspired to get instantly dark the moment HEALTH began. It's probably a false memory, but it's certainly fitting... if The Notwist are glowing, fading of the light twinkliness, HEALTH were the festival getting properly underway. They've been accused of being a sort of Argos Liars by some, but I though this was great... the album is essentially lots of little bits of idea, bolted together a bit weirdly, but propped up with a properly theatrical show (matching costumes, frenzied front of stage drum beatings) it's good, dark, vicious, silly fun. As a side note, the clashing Edan was apparently brilliant, only actually clash of the weekend I was particularly annoyed about. Wigs, flowers, rocking chairs... yeah man.

Public Enemy - Definitely pretty drunk now, but yeah... they did It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back (not in order) and it was really good... I was quite gobsmacked that Flava Flav was actually, like, really good. I mean, I know intellectually he is, but the man's turned into such a trainwreck in recent years it's pretty hard to square it. Also they finished with a song off their last album, which turned out to be really good. And also Terminator X was there for some reason. So in conclusion Public Enemy both surprised and delighted me.

Portishead - Right so what happened was, I was now really, really drunk, I lost the others because I walked ahead too far, got a nice text message from Mark (a rarity in itself) that said they'd meet me at the end of the set. Logically what I should have done was enjoy the set on my own. What I actually did was somehow convince myself that they'd abandoned me deliberately WHILE AT THE SAME TIME being fully aware that they hadn't. Doublethink in its purest form, basically. Anyway, a further paradox of the situation was that due to the rather, uh, maudlin nature of Portishead's music, I actually thoroughly enjoyed myself, or at least the new stuff, which is blatantly better than 'classic' Portishead. In fact I spent most of the 'classic' Portishead bits being rather grumpy. As opposed to being sublimely melancholic. Which is what I was in the new stuff. Important distinction. Oh yeah, and Chuck D came out and did a guest rap during Machine Gun, which was pretty cool, though I can't really , y'know, remember anything about it other than it happened. I'm sure it was dead political, like.

De La Soul - So I met the others, and spent precisely five minutes continuing to freak out, possibly exacerbated by the fact they (possibly jokingly) confiscated my precious stash of recreational chemicals. Then (and really I'm saying all this based on the testimonies of others) I cheered with a rapidity as swift and illogical as the onset of my original grump. Was thus ship shape and Bristol fashion for a thoroughly bouncing De La Soul gig. Again, memories are relatively non-specific, though this time mostly because we were right at the back of the crowd dancing like bastards or, as it was put to Laura, with 'a large circumference' (see right). Having had my moment of the darkness earlier that night, it was then sort of Tamsin's turn... not that she exactly went dark, it's just that she'd bought €220 worth of drink vouchers. That is a lot of drink. It must also have been quite the operation for the poor people responsible for the (admittedly ridiculous) operation of changing cash into €1 paper tokens. In Tams' defence, she didn't actually work through all of them. She did, however, work through enough. She left. In fairness, none of us have particularly lucid memories of any music after this, so maybe not a terrible thing.

Vampire Weekend - MASSIVE crowd, many of whom appeared to be utter dicks (naturally we were wearing sunglasses at night, but, um, still), again, pretty out of it but didn't especially rock my world. Think I've sort of gone from only liking the VW songs that have good bits in them to only liking the actual good bits. Screw 'em. Around this time I did something bad, though quite funny if you have a crass sense of humour. I shall not mention it in a public blog so as to protect identities from the huge public traffic that flows through here. With great power, etc etc etc.

Later - Oh god, I dunno, I think I watched somebody called Berlinbattery, fuck knows what they were like, lager, vodka and MDMA were now coursing violently through my body like triple tributaries of some erratic tropical waterway. As is my way I eventually came to all in one burst, though not so much that I didn't turn to Emma, who it turned out I was with, and demand we go see Midnight Juggernauts. Which was fine, only I hadn't, y'know, checked the time... basically they'd finished a while ago, so I dragged us back over to the Vice Stage to watch the end of Berlinbattery. Who now seemed okay. I then took advantage of my now vague acquaintance with reality to reassemble the troops, all of whom had had adventures of their own it seemed.

Again, it would be unfair to go into too many details on a public blog, but um, well, Laura's were relatively wholesome - she'd attempted to mother a really fucked Manc, who'd traded her a lollipop in exchange for her number (on day two it transpired he'd been thrown out of both the festival and his hotel and got an early flight home) then shambled off, and then having lost me during Vampire Weekend, spent two hours playing with a dog. One of the others did something very naughty with a man called Nacho. I shall not say who. I also slowly realised that I'd lost my shades and broken my camera in a weird way that meant all the buttons worked backwards. Pah. Erm, anyway, we managed to reconvene with relative competency, and then realising it was just after 5am, got the Metro back to our apartment and had a few beers on the roof before bed. Thoroughly civilised.

Day Two

Earlier - We kicked off the day with a spot of needlecraft. And when I say 'we', I mean everyone else, I was off scoring chemicals in true hunter gatherer fashion. But yeah, some back story.

We enjoy the music of Fuck Buttons. A lot.

Furthermore we share a fair whack of mutual friends with Fuck Buttons, and I think the combination of these facts - i.e. our love of the music combined with a slight amusement at the fact they're in no way the aloof rock gods we sort of want them to be - has made us slightly obsessed with them. So what we (it was Laura's idea originally) of course decided was that we'd sew the word 'fuck' into our clothes. In buttons. Genius. We are geniuses.

So the others did that, and they did that well. I purchased bad things, also competently.

Then 'twas off to the glorious seaside carpark that is the Primavera site. The one unfortunate thing about the festival is the weird amounts of bureaucracy they occasionally put you through. Much of the morning had been devoted to frisking Ms Curry for booze tokens, which annoyingly were Thursday only, and thus we had to queue again to trade them for Friday ones. That done, we attempted to queue to see Bill Callahan, who was playing at the indoor Auditorium venue... some ten minutes after he was supposed to have started, the queue hadn't moved at all, so we sacked it off, much to Mark's disgust. As it turns out they ran a completely mental policy of clearing out the Auditorium between acts, then not actually letting people start filing in until the band started. Which basically meant it was physically impossible to see a band all the way through. Which is silly.

Oh yeah, my friend Charlotte Annat. We saw her just before Bill Callahan, which I believe she did get into. Anyway, having already had to fork out for three festival tickets after misplacing the ones she'd originally purchased for herself and her friend, Charlotte got so 'refreshed' before her flight to Barcelona that she never actually made it to day one. And when she did eventually make it she decided she didn't actually really enjoy it, thusly sacking the whole thing off to go clubbing. There is probably some sort of moral in this, though I doubt it can be condensed particularly pithily.

The Strange Death Of Liberal England - For some stupid reason me, Laura and Tams decided we'd be broad minded and go and see a band we didn't know much about. Crock of shit idea, obviously. They're okay, but I was sort of under the impression that they were like a post-rock Arcade Fire. Actually they were like a slightly overblown Brit indie band. They didn't even hold up the funny placards I'd heard they used. Gah.

No Age - Why oh why didn't we just go and see No Age instead of TSDOLE? Oh yeah, because they sort of fucked up at ATP, even if it was kind of muddy, unsubtle fun. Anyway, we wandered along for end and were very glad we did - glorious blue sky, stage next to the water (the Vice stage really was pretty, I'll give them that) and the songs weren't murdered in feedback - Sleeper Hold, my favourite track off Nouns, sounded lovely. Oh, and we found some glittery stars on the floor, which we promptly attached to our faces with Vaseline.

Incidentally by this stage me, Tams, Laura and Natalie had all been asked if we could have our photo taken by people who - if not exactly official looking - did appear to be genuinely working for actual publications. We were sort of chuffed that our ploy of dressing as ludicrously as possible had made somebody or other think we were superfly hipster types, until we remembered Vice were out in force. All I'm saying is I wouldn't be surprised if we end up in that 'worst dressed' bit, very soon.

The Sonics - Natalie referred to them as 'shitus quo', which was maybe a bit harsh, but wouldn't exactly go on a limb to disagree with her. They've done some classic, maybe all time classic pop songs, and if I'd been around in their heyday and actually been cool enough to be disaffected about shinier, more mannered pop I'm sure one of their gigs would have been great. But this incarnation... I dunno, I can see how these type of shows can work sometimes, but The Sonics restored as something verging on an arena rock act just didn't really make sense... these are guys from the 60s, in their 60s, doing a slightly cheesy, slightly session musican-ish take on some great songs they wrote. Which would be fair enough if the Stooges reunion had been shit, but, um, well, it wasn't, was it? Pleasant, maybe even toe-tappin', but no more...

(saw little bits of Bob Mould and Sebadoh - both pretty dull, former less than latter)

Why? - Really glad I saw them/him, not least because I'd vaguely thought I might sack it off in favour of somebody else as I'd be able to see them at Venn, only for them to pull out of that due to illness. Anyway, I'm not cool enough to be massively familiar, but a sort of warm, wafty, psychedelic haze that made me feel good about more or less everything.

Devo - Saw a bit of Devo from afar. Seemed a bit lame, to be honest. I dunno, we only showed up for five minutes, and a lot of that was taken up by me and Laura doing the whole hold hands and spin around in a big circle thing. Which was predictably disastrous - we smacked into a faintly inexplicable bollard, took a tumble, I ended up bruised, Laura tore a gash in her knee and stubbed her toes so badly she thought she might have broken them. Nay mind. It was time for Fuck Buttons.

Fuck Buttons - In next month's edition of a popular niche indie mag, you'll be able to read a medium pretentious review of Fuck Buttons' Venn set by moi, which basically makes the point that all their gigs are basically identical, but then that's sort of the point, it's like a ritual or a summoning, and you can't be doing that shit out of order.

Anyway, I'm not going to repeat myself, though I would like to reiterate the point that the untitled new song they're playing at the end of the set is probably the best thing they've done (I believe I used the phrase 'roar of trancey light') and here is a link to a badly recorded version of it from a different show:

So back to us being idiots. Laura threw her embroidered t-shirt at Benjamin John Power. It missed. For reasons it's best not to go into, she has his phone number. She texted him to tell him where it was. Twice. Unsurprisingly, he did not interrupt the set to look at his phone.

In the meantime, I had doled out the chemicals. They were intended for all, but were in fact entirely snaffled by myself, Laura, Natalie and Arike. Arike had never done them before, and being a bit drunk, I came to the conclusion that we'd split them exactly four ways, and that newbie Arike would go mental at some point very soon. I voiced the fears to the others, which sort of ended up getting Chinese whispered to 'oh my god, Arike had all the drugs'. She'd barely had a dab - administered by Natalie, who I suspect had actually had all the drugs - and friction of the night came from her getting incensed at the fact she thought I was accusing her of being some sort of thief. I would never do that. I am fairness and non-judgement incarnate.

Not that this really mattered, because it would be some hours before I would see her again, or indeed, have a clue what was happening. But back to the others... me and Mark left to go and load up on German minimalist techno. The girls stayed behind and gesticulated wildly at Fuck Buttons as they took their equipment down, eventually I believe persuading a bouncer to give Andy Hung the t-shirt. Andy Hung looked scared, apparently. Then they phoned Ben Power, leaving a message which apparently said something along the lines of 'we're not stalkers, but we really think you should meet us as we'll get on really well'. Apparently they then rounded off with monkey noises in the style of the FB song Ribs Out. He did not phone back, though this did not deter Natalie from texting him several times over the course of the night.

(errrrrrrrrrr) - I've never done ketamine before. And certainly not ketamine and MDMA at the same time. But what it apparently does (or at least the two in tandem) is give you an enormous feeling of well being and euphoria combined with general oblivion to one's surroundings. Walked with Mark to see Robert Hood, lost him within about one minute (though despite his grumbles to the contrary I did text him to say where I was, I noted from my outbox ahem ahem), danced I assume on my own, can't really remember anything apart from the music, which was, like, bostin'. Um, then I guess I probably saw Ellen Allien. I have no fucking idea. It felt good, whatever it was. I was so screwed that I sent an quite catastrophic sequence of texts to Holly, wherein I sent four and didn't manage to form one single word. That's the good shit.

Holy Fuck - Again, I sort of came out of my blissful oblivion over a fairly quick period of time, and remembered that it was imperative I saw Holy Fuck. I am sincerely grateful that I did. I went over there on my own, stood front centre, and impressively Emma and Natalie had exactly the same idea and we just found each other there (er, it is possible Emma had been with me already, fuck knows). Basically Holy Fuck are an amazing band and they played really full on, whumping versions of their marvellous DIY dance music, and that would have been good enough for all of us. What made this probably the best festival set I've ever seen was the stage invasion that came during Lovely Allen... you know when The Stooges invite 50 or so people to come up at the end of the set? Pussies. People just started filing onstage unbidden during the song... when there were about 20 or so up there me and Natalie sort of looked at each other with a loot that simply said 'well, we are of course going on stage then, aren't we?' My rubbish upper body strength could have seen it end badly, but a booster from ms Milne sorted things and I was up onstage. There's not really any way to describe this without gushing, but the experience was incredible... the people just kept coming, there must have been 300 by the end, and the atmosphere was just wonderful... camaraderie and dancing and Holy Fuck - who I'd always thought were kind of surly characters - looked stunned and ecstatic at the whole thing. And Les Savy Fav were wandering around banging drums. It was hugely surreal, incredibly uplifting, the music was amazing, but I suppose moreover it was by the far the most communal thing I've ever experienced at a festival, and surely communal things are essentially what festivals are about. Some nice pix here:

Later - the others had all been 'watching' Om and then Supermayer, and were holed up in the Electronica stage, which had by this stage (must have been around 6am) been sealed off. Me and Natalie were hardened stage climbers, and, er, busted (climbed over a low table past some unconcerned catering staff) our way in. Full of piss and vinegar at the fact we'd been onstage with Holy Fuck, I was a little deflated at the fact that Mark was almost psychotically unimpressed, declaring that what was much better was the Minimalist Techno Tango, a new, er, entertainment that involved him and Laura tangoing to - gasp - minimalist techno, and asking strangers which one they'd like to kiss on the cheek more. Each to their own. Anyway, matters simmered down eventually, and we left, as a group this time. Journey home was somewhat interrupted by our wandering through the Place Realle... there is a big fountain there... I sort of went to lift myself up into it, but then I saw it was full of rubbish and didn't bother. Natalie called me some sort of wimp, hoiked herself up, then shouted 'urgh! there's a dead pigeon in here!' I felt about a second of validation. Until I heard a thump, and realised Natalie had thrown the dead bird out onto the square. Me and Mark posed for pictures with it. Passing Spaniards were horrified. We were (and are) bad, bad people.

Day Three

Times New Viking - Despite it being day three of the festival, we somehow managed to drag ourselves out for our earliest start yet. Though when I say 'we' that was us without Natalie, who stayed in bed, having not slept for the previous nights. And when I say 'earliest start', that's not to say we were bright eyed and bushy tailed - Mark and Tamsin could barely speak and looked sort of angry at the world, and even mine and Laura's puppydog like cheer was dented somewhat. Anyway, like a quartet of dysfunctional ghosts (Arike had wandered off to see something or other), we slunk over to watch Times New Viking. In the rain. Tamsin sat on her own, looking much like a disconsolate ghost. Mark wandered into the crowd on his own, and looked quite angry, though that's sort of what he does as a rule.

Fortunately mine and Laura's aforementioned houndlike enthusiasm was restored by bumping into the always charming Nathan from Dogday, the spectacle of an absolute mentalist in the crowd twitching like one of those loons from old videos of Wigan Casino to TNV's not especially dancey music, and TNV themselves. They sort of make more sense live anyway, insofar as their records sound like somebody accidentally recorded a really, really, really drunk rehearsal, but yeah, a nice surge of rough, melodic noise, and the band themselves were hilarious, seemed almost totally out of it - drummer made shout outs to 'Heath Ledger, if he's here', 'Bilbo Baggins, if he's here', they took five minutes to change a broken guitar string, during which time he muttered something about how he was going to jump into the sea, and brilliantly he was using a festival programme to work out how long their set should be. After about twenty minutes he asked a completely bemused sound guy if they had time for a couple more. Er... yeah.

One explanation for their behaviour may lie in the alleged existence of an extremely well-stocked 'cocaine tent' in the guest area, which apparently was so popular that they had to introduce a fee to use it, just to reduce the queues. In retrospect this is patently untrue, as some of the smaller bands would probably be able to slyly toot more than their actual appearence fee. But I would like to believe it, plus the guy who told us this said he'd met Beth from TNV and she was physically quite dirty, which I'm certain is true.

Atlas Sound - If Holy Fuck was the best set as an actual experience, this was the most purely perfect in the sense of being like an actual gig. The gloomy weather helped, and the start of the set just felt perfect with it, pale waves of misty, shimmering electric loops. Thought Mr Cox wasn't going to say anything for fear of breaking the spell or whatever, but then about 15 minutes in he just switched into the chattiest man ever, blitzing out a selection of filthy, hilarious anecdotes, cranking up the camp so heroically far we were wondering whether perhaps he actually wasn't gay and it was all a studied act. After that he started playing really quite loud, which has made me listen to the album in a totally new light, there's way more going than mere ambience - it actually uses ambience as a weapon, and a violent one at that. He also played a song which he introduced merely as 'African Jam'... I've only heard it once and thus can't really remember it, beyond that it was thundering and dense and it was the best thing we heard all day and we were dancing, dancing, dancing, dancing. Definitely recommend you get over to and download some of the free Atlas Sound stuff, hopefully African Jam will make an appearence soon.

Silver Jews - A lot of people raved about this set, but think me and Laura were too buzzing from Atlas Sound to take in the couple of songs we saw, which was kind of a shame. But even being distracted, it's pretty clear David Berman is a born frontman, which is kind of mad considering his prior aversion to touring.

Young Marble Giants - Grumble grumble the queueing system blah blah, but once we got in I LOVED the ambience of the auditorium - great lights, great acoustics, thought it really suited YMG, who just sounded perfect, really... I dunno... cooling? They're such beautiful songs and they seem to come from such a different time and headspace, childhood and nightwhispers and sad sad lullaby melodies... loved it, better than I could have hoped. Also they made a shout out to 'auntie Natalie', something not lost on the now present Natalie J Milne.

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks - Now high on music, me and Laura ran to see Stevie boy. Ran to the wrong stage. Then ran to the right stage. Caught the last, er, eight minutes or so of Real Emotional Trash. Sounded good. Oh well.

Deerhunter - Me and Laura decided to sack off Throbbing Gristle's by all accounts suitably gruesome set because we now officially loved Brandon Cox and all he does. Wasn't as perfect, or as in tune with the weather, the time or our moods as Atlas Sound, but still chuffing maaarvellous... again, totally amped up, ambient sections loud and dangerous, like a burning fog. Lots of new stuff from the forthcoming Microcastles album, sounded great... as I drunkenly observed to Laura 'the outros are all fucking incredible'. A bold, controversial statement, but one I stand by entirely.

Shellac - In many ways this seemed pretty much identical to the two sets I saw at ATP last year, but fuck it, Shellac are just one of those bands so singular it'd be disappointing if they were reminiscent of anything other than Shellac. Love the way they set the stage up, love the way they take Todd's drumkit apart at the end, love the Q&A session (this time with a smirking Scout Niblett - too noisy to really work, but whatever; think Natalie shouted out something like 'is Steve Albine really that much of a dick?'), love The End Of Radio... for some reason they remind me of somebody very strong, building something metal.

Getting pretty drunk and a wee bit high here, no real idea what we did prior to Animal Collective, may have just had some pizza, which seems quite sensible by our standards, but, like whatevz. Think we saw some of DJ Funk/DJ Assault, but just passively.

Animal Collective -I kept referring to them as 'Primavera's Coldplay', mostly in an attempt to wind Tamsin up about Glasto, but 'twould be fair to say expectations were pretty high, their 5am set a couple of year back is sort of talked of in hushed tones... um, yeah, again, my perceptions of stuff were a bit altered by now, but what I mostly remember is blinding floods of multicoloured light, much dancier than I'd have though, like a rainbow rave, definite lull in the middle, but fuck it, they played Panda Bear's Comfy In Nautica and it were reet sublime, I tell thee.

Simian Mobile Disco - Were supposed to play live, but couldn't, for reasons we probably speculated over for FAR too long. Anyway, it was fun, they had a man dressed as a rabbit onstage, the doubless inevitable fetsival airing for Ready For The Floor insinuated its way out of the speakers, they played a song off the Charlie And The Chocolate Factory soundtrack, and it was all a lot of fun until the quasi biblical torrents that had been doing their thing for the last hour so finally encouraged us to go and watch some pounding electro house.

Tiefschwartz - I think Laura put it best when she said 'I can't really tell if I like this or not, because I'm so fucked I've loved every single thing I've heard for the last three hours'. Er, yeah, pounding. We were dancing, but I'm not actually sure it was actually to the music. By the end it definitely wasn't, as having dispatched Mark and Arike to the bar with the last of our token to get a round of Jaegers, the rest of us got involved with a session of dinosaur aerobics, which, um, involved shouting out the name of one of the legendary reptiles and then jumping into a pose which resembled it. We quickly realised we only actually knew about four different types of dinosaur, which was a problem. So we threw prehistoric mammals into the mix. And a beautiful thing happened... when we did giant sloth, we all did the same slo-mo action and realised that it was now over, this was the perfect moment to stop. Either that or our bodies had simply gone on an across the board strike because they were sick to the back teeth of how much of a bunch of dicks we were making them look.

Yeah, it was probably that.

When we left the site there were some people outside the gates banging some things and blowing a harmonica. Our faculties were now so shot that we had no idea whether they were good or excerable, but we danced anyway.


We would have many more adventures before we left Barcelona. Many many many more adventures. Manymanymanymanymanymanymany more adventures. Some of them believable, some of I now begin to doubt whether they really happened.

I shall sign off with one vignette only, which is to say that on Mark's last night, what he decided to do was snort a line of soap powder. As a result he screamed in massive pain and reeled around in deserved agony for a bit. It all quietened down soon enough, but apparently hours later, his mouth tasted like detergent. I am not saying Mark Ward is an idiot. But let's be honest, it's pretty hard to avoid that conclusion.

However, if we had lost at least half a pound of brain cells between us, they died soldiers' deaths, sacrificed for a worthy cause. And we all survived and we're all still friends.

So basically the moral of the story is that snorting soap powder and stalking noise bands is just groovy.