Friday, December 26, 2008

Pop Calendar



I'm not sure what word is for people who are addicted to popping bubble wrap - they have a word for everything these days... Anyways, those trying to ween themselves off can cut their addiction down to one bubble a day... Poppers click here!

Bubble calendars could be considered a little kitsch but considering they have used Helvetica Neue I think it's quite wonderful... Alternatively, buy a Helvetica Neue T-shirt from ilovetypography.com

RIP Harold Pinter



Harold Pinter, the British playwright and political activist who won the 2005 Nobel Prize for Literature, has died at the age of 78. Pinter was Britain's most successful post-war playwright and his most famous works included 'The Caretaker', 'The Homecoming' and 'The Birthday Party'..

RIP Eartha Kitt



The acting and singing legend was 81...

Slumdog Millionaire



Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire is a great film. Set in India, the movie tracks the exploits of two brothers and a girl they 'adopt' growing up in the slums of Bombay (later Mumbai.) The younger brother Jamal appears on 'Who wants to be a millionaire' and the answer to each question is expertly related via flashback to events of the trio's adventures growing up in (and trying to escape) the slums... On the verge of the final question the show ends for the day and Jamal is arrested on suspicion of cheating - after all, how can a boy who grew up in the slums possibly know the answer to all these questions! The older brother Salim has meanwhile become a runner for the local gangster and the girl Latika they grew up with is more or less a prisoner as the gangster's girlfriend. Slumdog Millionaire is essentially a love story between Jamal and Latika - Jamal trying to find the girl (after the two brothers lose touch) by appearing on the world's most famous TV show.

The film is visually stunning and the casting is amazing - each of the main characters is played by three actors as the children grow up... There are definite nods to Trainspotting in Boyle's black humour and also Fernando Meirelles' 'City of God' in the lawless dog-eat-dog world of the slums.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Christmas (or name that tune!)

Happy Christmas to all my avid readers - you know who you are...

Fresh from writing pop classic Mary Celeste (lyrics by the wonderful Keith Haworth) I started on something new yesterday. After a while I realized I had blatantly ripped off two of my favorite songs, but at what point does conscience take over and you scrap the song? I would say scrap it as soon as you realize but some, mentioning no names (Chris Paltry) say let the courts decide...

Anyways, if anyone can name the songs I have ripped off in the verse and chorus I will scrap it (although the bridge is definitely a keeper.) The horns in the verse are a big clue and maybe the end of the chorus on the last chord change...

Name that song!

Answers on a postcard to...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Lost in the Stars

Los Angeles is considered the entertainment capital of the world... That may be the case but you wouldn't believe some of the shite bands I've seen around town this year... However, there's also some really cool music out there and here are my 10 LA bands to look out for in 2009 (in no particular order...) and why they may or may not make it...

1) Warpaint: think Bat for Lashes with groove...



Your drummer leaving the band could be considered a bad thing - but when she leaves to star in a Hollywood movie opposite Heath Ledger (and still has a sister in the band) an avenue of possibilities opens.

WHY? They are better than Bat for Lashes!
WHY NOT? A celeb audience at your shows is no guarantee of success...

Warpaint on MySpace!

2) ExDetectives: think The Railway Children meets Radiohead...



A debut EP and West Coast tour are promised for early 2009 and getting on the road (out of LA in other words) is probably a good move...

WHY? Music is due a U-turn away from indie dance back to intelligent art-rock...
WHY NOT? LA is not a good place to make it for a band playing intelligent music...

ExDetectives on MySpace!

3) The Happy Hollows: think a grungy Yeah Yeah Yeah's...



Sarah Negahdari is the anti-pop star: quirky and funny, and the powerpop three-piece are always an entertaining gig.

WHY? Great live and effortlessly cool!
WHY NOT? The kids may not be ready for a grunge revival...

The Happy Hollows on MySpace!

4) David Shane Smith: think Leonard Cohen covered by Beck.



Poet troubadour DSS is comfortable with either an acoustic guitar or a sampler...

WHY? Only Conor Oberst has come close to the lyrics of Dylan - until now...
WHY NOT? The kids will say Leonard who?

David Shane Smith on MySpace!

5) The Fresas: think Be Your Own Pet with a sense of humour...



East-LA indie chicks with matching outfits and great harmonies...

WHY? Great image and a fun live show!
WHY NOT? The songs maybe a little too jokey...

The Fresas on MySpace!

6) STANLEYLUCASREVOLUTION: think lo-fi David Bowie.



The loop guru is currently incorporating additional musicians into the SLR line-up.

WHY? Unbelievably talented musician, singer and performer!
WHY NOT? Again, LA isn't the ideal place to break a leftfield artist like Robertson...

stanleylucasrevolution on MySpace!

7) Lemon Sun: think Glasvegas playing songs written by The New Radicals...



One of the best live bands I saw in 2008 - had the audience eating out of the palm of their hand...

WHY? Great live band...
WHY NOT? The recordings I've heard so far don't capture the live experience!

Lemon Sun on MySpace!

8) Brookline: think Pink Floyd with a pinch of Radiohead.



The stylish OC hipsters have the chops and the looks and that can go a long way...

WHY? Young, good looking and talented...
WHY NOT? Need to write a couple of hits...

Brookline on MySpace!

9) The Rhone Occupation: think The Bends era Radiohead meets Elliott Smith.



The Rhone Occupation are geeky but cool - they don't look like The Band and that works for me...

WHY? Entertaining live show and sensitive well-written songs...
WHY NOT? They sound too much like Radiohead...

The Rhone Occupation on MySpace!

10) boxViolet: think The Ting Tings covering The Sisters of Mercy.



The LA duo have a liking for elaborate orchestral stabs and indie guitars...

WHY? Strong image and some catchy songs...
WHY NOT? I'm not sure the indie kids are ready to embrace anything remotely sounding like goth...

boxViolet on MySpace!

So have any of these bands got what it takes to make it big in 2009? I say let the kids decide...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Casual Carousal at Breakfast Club Gallery



Breakfast Gallery is an interesting space - probably an alley between two buildings that someone converted into a gallery. It is therefore a long narrow room with a lounge area on one side. The concrete floor is not ideal for standing around for a few hours in the winter...

The artists were an eclectic mix of anti-bands:

Sasha Gransjean: jazzy acoustic existentialism from party organiser Sasha. First time I've seen a trombone for a while...

David Shane Smith: David could well be the new Leonard Cohen. Poetic lryics and finger-picking acoustic guitar but updated with a sampler and some other electronics that elavate him into lo-fi Idle Tigers or Beck territory. The American Momus? Possibly...

The Fancies: average acoustic musings from a band featuring possibly the tallest women I've ever seen!

stanleylucasrevolution: short but powerful set featuring a couple of new songs and the essential NS40...

Box Violet: boy/girl duo with a setup like The Ting Tings - he plays drums and samples/she plays guitar. The sound wasn't great and their best song sounded like The Mission's 'Wasteland' but aside from that they were cool...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

RIP Oliver Postgate

Oliver Postgate died this week... Postgate produced children's TV shows such as Ivor the Engine, Noggin the Nog, The Clangers and probably his best known show: Bagpuss... A genius who lives on through his magical storytelling expertise...

Here is the BBC News Obituary...

Ivor The Engine



Noggin the Nog



The Clangers



Bagpuss

Friday, December 12, 2008

CSS at Echoplex



CSS are undoubtedly doing it for the kids! However, if they saw the kids at the Echoplex last night they might want to stop - I've never seen such a bunch of crusty LA scenesters. Still at least they were short...

The show was good - CSS are always entertaining with their hybrid of Blondie meets Elastica blended nicely with the current indie dance fad...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

RIP Bettie Page



You ... have me
As far as I could see,
Roped and trussed just like Dear Bettie Page

Ooh, and I know, that it's fine
That sweet taste of Gwendoline
I don't want to disengage

The Jazz Butcher

Pinup Queen and sexual revolutionary Bettie Page died Thursday night at Kindred Hospital in Los Angeles, where she had been on life support since suffering a heart attack Dec 2nd...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

New Stone Top 40

It's that time of year when the lists of the Top albums of 2008 start coming out...

Despite missing out on the Culture Deluxe Top 50 albums of 2008 which is topped by the excellent Eine Kleine Nacht Musik, STANELYLUCASREVOLUTION's 'Evolutionary Sunset Call' made #26 in the Condemned to Rock 'N' Roll Top 40 of 2008...

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Oasis at The Pearl



Matt Costa pops up occasionally supporting English bands touring the US - he needs to stop. Sure, his acoustic musings have an English flavor - Billy Bragg, Syd Barrett and Nick Drake to name but three but the dude (I use this word only in context) is from Huntingdon Beach for gods sake!

(B)Ryan Adams and the Cardinals sound like Diesel Park West - in other words, what U2 sounded like when they discovered America. However, they are more 'Rattle and Hum' than 'Joshua Tree'. Bryan does sing like Bono but his "nobody likes us" routine is a little tiresome: we don't - get over it!

Oasis played exactly the same set as the LA gig but I don't think anyone cared as they were fantastic from start to finish. The smaller venue and standing crowd contributing to a great and celebratory atmosphere. Both Gallaghers seemed in a better mood and Noel was even quite chatty in places - no doubt happy to have his entourage such as Russell Brand and Ricky Hatton sitting in the closest section of seats.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Plagiarism begins at home...

Oh dear, I read with glee that Coldplay are being sued by Joe Satriani for using "substantial original portions" of his 2004 song 'If I Could Fly' on their single 'Viva La Vida' - the titular track from their most recent craptacular..

The evidence seems pretty damning - you can listen to the iTunes preview of 'If I could fly' here...

I don't expect the lawsuit to reach court - the parties will come to some 'arrangement' and we will see Coldplay and Satriani performing the song together at the Grammys. A win/win situation? Shame on you Mr Paltrow...

Oasis at Staples Center



Oasis started off a little flat for the first half of the set. I don't know whether it was the mix, Liam's nasally vocal delivery or a combination of both but I was still enjoying Chris Sharrock's drumming, which was (of course) amazing throughout. It wasn't until Liam started a row with someone in the audience and Noel delivered an immaculate version of 'The Masterplan' that the gig really kicked into gear - Liam returning with a swagger to deliver a blistering version of 'Slide Away'. The rest of the set was plain sailing and even the songs from the new album sounded good. The encore included the obligatory 'Don't Look back in anger', 'Champagne Supanova' and 'I am the walrus'...

Rock & Roll Star
Lyla
Shock Of The Lightning
Cigarettes & Alcohol
Meaning of Soul
To Be Where There's Life
Waiting For The Rapture
The Masterplan
Songbird
Slide Away
Morning Glory
Ain't Got Nothing
Importance of Being Idle
I'm Outta Time
Wonderwall
Supersonic

Don't Look Back In Anger
Fallin' Down
Champagne Supernova
I Am The Walrus

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Six inches of fluff...



Resident Radiohead artist Stanley Donwood has launched Six Inch Records and a very fine proposition it is too, although I'm not sure what Alan McGee would make of it all... "They're living in the past, it's like owning a tram company or something!" Well, trams are making a comeback don't you know - take Croydon (please) for example... you can get stabbed on a bus, train or tram there...

Read all about Six Inch Records here and look out for the splendid blog about how to make a sleeve out of the material beer mats are made from...

I'm not sure what any of the bands sound like but that's not really the point is it?

Pinnacle or bust?

Indie distributor Pinnacle has gone bust...

Pinnacle was responsible for over 400 indie labels, such as Rough Trade, One Little Indian, Drag City and Fierce Panda.

Another nail in the coffin of indie labels or a fresh opportunity... I would say let the kids decide but WTF do they know?

Read the full story here...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

ExDetectives at The Airliner



I went down to The Airliner last night to see ExDetectives... After the revolving door of bands that were being herded in and out of the venue last time I was there it was almost a relief to find only the downstairs bar open and no lines to get a drink...

ExDetectives were cool - the highlights being 'Golden' and 'Time to run' with Alex drumming like a man possessed...