Friday, 31 October 2008

Times New Viking - Stay Awake EP (Matador 2008)

Times New Viking return with a set of completely new spiky recordings on EP 'Stay Awake'. Still ploughing the scuzzy shitty lo-fi sounding amateurish distorted recording sessions, they succeed in their ability to write searing soaring melodies and punk out on the DIY 4Real aesthetic. They sound every so slightly cleaner now, with more distinction between synth and guitar but the shouty girl-boy-pop vocals remain as do the clashing clattering drums that sound like they might fall over in a pounding Animal from the Muppet Show moment. This 7" EP contains 'Call and Respond' with its lilting guitar and call and respond vocals is almost a cutesy love song in a lo-fi punk way, while 'Pagan Eyes' is shouty pop and 'Hate Hate Hate' is aggressive and naughty and pounding all at the same time. They have got more sonic and hook-laden since April's 'Rip It Off' and 'No Sympathy' is almost a conventional song, done in their own twisted way of course. This is for fans of the album mostly but will likely convert more people as it is more accessible than the album. Recommended.


Times New Viking - Rip It Off (Matador 2008)

Times New Viking's debut on Matador, 'Rip It Off', is a noisy scuzzy art-thrash trip through the teenage tribulations of an Ohioan three-piece obsessed with 'Teen Drama' and fitting in versus not bothering. With barely distinguishable lyrics, clattering hi-hats and a distorted guitar distorting the speakers it's playing out of, they are DIY pop-punk enthusiasts with no interest in tidying up their sound for anyone. No retreat no surrender etcera. Sounding like unrefined versions of Pavement and Yo La Tengo, they are hopeful, wide-eyed and immature in quick successful, with hopeful man-woman melodies and an assymetric guitar rumbling along.

Where 'Rip It Off' succeeds in its self-aware unwillingness to sound refined and clean. They make songs, they want us to hear the songs, what does it matter how beautiful and studio-magic they sound if the emotion is there, if it's throbbing with rock-tensity and punk-ibility. This makes an initially difficult listen grow sweeter with each listen, as the melodies and the harmonies start to lift themselves out of the scuzzy mix and you appreciate the textures they are operating on.

Times New Viking's final song is a nod to any comparisons with Yo La Tengo. It's called, amazingly, 'Times New Viking vs Yo La Tengo'. It's a funny, Yo La Tengo-ish romp, showcasing their self-belief and their appreciation for their influences, what came before them and how it shaped them. So many bands wear their influences on their sleeves, but very rarely do they celebrate them in as literal a way as Times New Viking do here. Album highlights include the pleasing 'Teen Drama' and 'Post Teen Drama' bookends, the slightly sardonic 'The Early 80s' and the sombre 'End of All Things.' By the time you hear the joyous conquering noise of finale, 'Post Teen Drama' you will start believing Times New Viking can save lives and punk can cure the blues.

Dub Colossus - A Town Called Addis (Real World 2008)

As we continue to explore Africa and its hidden beauties, more music is being discovered continually and thrust into widely-scoped projects such as this Dub Colossus album. Now we're heard Senegalese and Malian music through Ernest Ranglin and Damon Albarn, it's time to head to Ethiopia and check out the amazing jazz and traditional folk music they're rocking out to over there. With this and 'Les Ethiopiques' we get a glimpse of the variety and majesty of Ethiopian folk/jazz music. The difference with this album is that it fusing its findings with dub and reggae creating a marriage of melodious proportions.

So, enough preample about ethiojazz, let's talk Dub Colossus, the brainchild of Dubulah (Nick Page), a respected guitarist and producer who was an original member of Transglobal Underground before forming Temple of Sound and done more for the world music scene than we'll ever realise. As a labour of love, in 2006, he visited Addis Ababa, rounded up some of its finest local musicians, experts in Azmari jazz, classical Ethiopian folk music, singers from the 60s/70s stable and ethio-beats, got them to rehearse and jam in a breezeblock hut under a corrugated iron roof in the middle of monsoon season, before recording them and compiling hours upon hours of beautiful music. They then relocated to Real World studios with some of the musicians, recorded them professionally and set about the task of dubbing up the recordings.

The bass-heavy result finds a sensuous alluring groove throughout, soothing your sense and hypnotising you with its repeated refrains, dub explosions and the pulse of the brass sections jamming and freestyling over the frequencies. The talented musicians work up into a frenzy of excitement and frenzy as they hit spiritual levels of enlightenment with their jamming. Intro, 'Azmari Dub' sets forth the ideals and mission statements of the piece with its dubbed out blissful jazz voyage, while 'Shegeye Shegitu' features a more classical approach, with marching handclaps, the wail of the messenqo (one-stringed fiddle) and the call and response of the singer and his choir all joyously sending spiritual messages out into the ether. 'Yeka Sub City Rockers' takes things back to the dub with delays and piano skanks filling out the speakers with their intensity and groove-filled wide-eyed enthusiasm.

This album is a special journey into the heart of Ethiopia grooving back and forth, calling and responding with its listener, giving you a seductive almost rapturous set of songs to sink your ears into. It's an audio journey through the heart of a city into the mountains and contains some excellent moods. Props to Dubulah who was able to sit with the hours of compiled music and turn it into something new and fresh. His celebration of Ethiopian music comes in his ability to turn it into something new, and actually make his own songs, stamp his own identity into each dub. Instead of recording musicians, you can hear his instruction, his direction and his production, turning out one of the best 'world' music albums of the year, a true journey into a town called Addis.

Dub Colossus

At the Barbican:

comics round-up 30 October 2008

Amazing Spider-man 575
We continue our development of the Brand New Day world post New Ways to Die and things seem a little slower. We have a new potential love interest for Pete in the form of a spunky spiky new reporter at Front Line. At the beginning we see him and a streetlady calld Greta in possession of a rat with a super-computer brain outrun some flying clowns. Then we see how Hammerhead with his new persona, skeleton and hunger for violence is recruiting new members to Mr Negative's gang. He's no longer a joke, and throughout, jokes are made to reflect this change in public perception of him. Spidey tries to keep some kids off the street and finally meets Hammerhead who smashes his jaw with his metal skeleton. The artwork's a bit cartoony and strange and Hammerhead looks like a weird misshapen teen throughout but it's enjoyable and Spidey's good fun and well-written. It's going to be hard keeping up the pace post-NWTD so hats off for the effort.

Amazing Spider-man Annual 1
This waste of paper is dedicated to the Jackpot mystery. She's got red hair, calls people tiger and is a reference to the immortal line 'Face it tiger, you just hit the jackpot'. So the entire time we're made to think Mary Jane has gained super-powers. We're given red herring after red herring and each time the mystery points to an even bigger pay-off. Has Mary Jane made her own private pact with Mephistopheles? Why is she running round NY as a superhero. Is she Jackpot? Well, the truth is a fucking waste of time. Over the entire annual, Spidey banters with and investigates Jackpot as they both investigate the mysterious Walter Declun. We learn who Sara Ehret is why Jackpot gave her name as her secret identity. Basically, she's just another girl who wants to be special (Heroes-style) so buys Sara Ehret's Initiative identity of Jackpot, which has been put together around MJ's acting work, pumps herself full of drugs like steroids and mutant growth hormone and runs around whacked on performance-enhancing drugs fucking up her attempts to save the world. And her name's Alana Jobson. And she dies at the end. Basically Marvel teases us for months, makes us think it's MJ, toys with the anti-BND audience's emotions, toys with all of us continuity fans and then as soon as they do the reveal, they show how little they really cared about her by killing her off. Much as I've been very pro BND/anti OMD, this sucks, this is cynical, stupid and unbelievably badly-written.

Marvel 1985 6 (of 6)
This final part to excellent Mark Millar mini-series is supposed to have serious repercussions for the Marvel Universe. God knows what they are. Instead, what we're left with is an extremely well-written tale about the blurs between fantasy and reality becoming smudged, about genuine affection for comics and Marvel characters and how we make our own realities. With blurred purposely 80s drawing and a powerful multi-character internal monologue, this series is really well-put together, lovingly created and the action zips along at a frenetic pace. Now it's over and we learn the macabre secret of Clyde Windham. Brilliant. More Millar magic.

X Force 8
Rahne is suffering nightmares. Warpath is looking for his brother. Warren Worthington can't control Archangel. And the legacy virus is being traded by evil mutants with an evil plan. It's up to Wolverine and X23 to try and bring in the Vanisher. Now Elixir is part of X Force and getting into the evil fun of being black-ops. I was worried that the new creative team wouldn't be as good and the Wolverine over-exposure would make me tired. But this is brilliant still, zipping along with a fun dangerous storyline. X Force are becoming infinitely more interesting than any of the other X teams.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Predator Rap

The fall-out and the answer

So Russell Brand quits to protect his boss and others implicated and she resigns anyway cos some content made it on air while she was on holiday and the Mail on Sunday witchhunt continues and the girl who said Brand should be sacked and was disgusted, the Satanic Slut in question (I won't even honour her with a link) signs with Max Clifford and prepares for kiss-and-tell heaven. Lovely girl.

Maybe Bill Hicks was right in his bit about stupid news deflecting us from the real issues. No one cares about the recession anymore now Brand's been an eeejat.

Oh yeah and Jackpot turned out to be some superhero pretender called Alana Jobson who's been jacking up on steroids and mutant growth hormone, and she dies at the end of the issue so all this time waiting for the reveal only to kill her off when it comes. Stupid Marvel.

Oh yeah and I finally found my copy of 'Knock Knock' by Smog, hiding in a box and all is good with the world. I'm settling in this evening with some Battlestar Galactica and some cold blooded old times.

New Watchmen Trailer

The new Watchmen Trailler previewed at this years Scream Awards.

Über cool, right down to the Billy Corgan backing track.

Apes that write, start fires and play Pac-Man

Quite possibly one of the most amazing things I've seen in a while:

Let's see the creationists deal with that! And just for some balanced journalism here's a chimp on a Segway:

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

The Russell Brand tapes

Judge for yourself innit...

The Baptist Generals - Raw from Self-Destruction

Oh dear Russell Brand, what have you done...

There I was listening to the Russell Brand podcast last week, and heard all those phonecalls he made to Manuel from Fawlty Towers about maybe shagging his granddaughter. The phone messages got worse and worse as Brand and Jonathan Ross tried to outdo each other in the mischief stakes and now their 'safe futures' is in doubt. They've been suspended from the BBC and there might be an investigation into harrassment and you have to wonder whether a mountain is being built out of a lump in the ground. Sure it was distateful and it got more cringey as the show progressed as they seemed to enter into a competition to outdo each other. But isn't the point of comedy to push the boundaries and challenge taboos. Maybe sometimes pushing those boundaries can go too far? Well, 18000 complainers think so. Whatever people think of Russell Brand and his apparent ego-ridden public persona, he is a funny talented man with a lot of charisma, and an excellent broadcaster. When you don't have to see him preen and play up to the camera, he is great. Now, he may have offended America with his spot-on if a little awkward political plea, and is now in books, movies, radio, television, risking over-exposure, so maybe the Brand bubble, cultivated for so long is ready to burst. I don't think it should be though. He's extremely funny and talented and it would be a shame to see this stall his career. Maybe he'll set his sights on one thing now rather than trying to conquer every media medium, and maybe he'll think twice about playing live ego games with other comedians constantly trying to outdo each other. If the comments had stayed between them it would have been fine, it's just that they have now reached someone's voicemail that suddenly people are out to villify him. His faults are evident and he's the first one to admit them, but maybe working for the establishment carries responsibility that he should take seriously. Although we shouldn't forget that the podcast was in the public domain for at least 9 days before the Mail on Sunday decided to make a fuss and use it in their crusade to make Brand the bad guy. So without Mail on Sunday fuss and the lucrative cash-ins that kiss-and-tells and exclusive interviews will no doubt throw up, god knows what the actual players involved think. In the meantime, I hope they don't take him off the air for this, as his Radio 2 podcast is one of the highlights of my listening week.

Brightblack Morning Light - Motion to Rejoin (Matador 2008)

Brightblack Morning Light, hailing from Alabama, are a duo specialising in dreamy Southern music, rooted in blues gospel and country. The end result though is something else entirely. Mostly recorded with a Rhodes piano slowly seeping in the foreground, while muddy percussion and delicate tinges of strings pulse in the background, it is almost a soundscape, existing mostly as one continuous track where the songs seem to evolve into each other and aren't distinguishable from one to the next. Joanna Newsom employed this method very successfully on the immaculate 'Ys', but the difference was, while you could hear how the songs progressed from one to another within the movement with slight key changes and repeated conceit refrains, there were 5 distinct tracks within each moment. Here all the songs are similarly toned with an over-arching mood for the whole thing, making it hard to pinpoint which tracks are your favourite as they are so seamlessly interwoven. Naybob Shineywater's vocals are dreamy and soft, unarticulated and breathily purred throughout while the Rhodes piano is slow and simple. This is a difficult album to immerse yourself in despite admiring the musicianship and minimalism playing throughout. There is a sense of outdoors and remoteness and where 'Opressions Each' demonstrates a worthy touch of orchestral soundscapes, the sometimes instrumental moments are lost to the all-too-similar feel throughout.

Official site

I'm dreaming of a white Diwali

Diwali is the only time I get religious a year. And every year falls into the same pattern of arrive, tea, pray, fireworks, eat, loosen belt-buckles. It's like traditional Christmases and follows the same protocols every year. You leave every light on to remind yourself of the light that exists in us all. This year was no different in its events yet carried this sense of bittersweet sadness. We all sat in the circle. Dad and his brother, having been through the toughest year of their lives were forlorn. The singing began, the ancient spiritual chanting of the Hindu prayers designed to bless us and celebrate god and give us luck and enlightenment for the year to come. My family has no sense of melody or rhythm and so the singing is always out of tune and time, each person singing their own version of the song, creating a messy paroxysm of celebration. This year new moods pervaded our family circle. Grandfather sat and blessed the accounts of the business. Everyone was sat in silence, staring at their fingers joined at the palm in prayer contemplation. The singing started with its usual awkward stop-start melody-less cacophony. Dad sat, staring at the carpet, defeated, not able to give himself to the spirit. His brother closed his eyes and sang his own tune, breaking into a passion that contradicted the defeated persona he has been emulating for months, singing with urgency and belief, throwing all his eggs into the prayer basket. There was no triumph this year as we all stared at our books, reading the lines slowly and robotically. Usually, when the moods prevail, the singing is fast and frenetic sung with a world-beating chest-pumping eloquence. However, none of this came to play last night. I was moved by the contrast between father and his brother as they sat next to each other, parallels wanting the same end-game. I was moved for the first time ever by this religious experience. Suddenly the lack of melody and the out-of-tune singing and the inability to sing as one in unison became a moving piece of work, an empassioned prayer, a need, a desperation tinged with resignation as father and brother contrasted each other, one going through the motions, the other believing in the power of prayer for the first time in months. He closed his eyes, tuned the rest of us out and had his own private dialogue with his gods, celebrating them so that they might celebrate him in return. Tears streamed as we neared the Hanuman Chalisa, the melodious pure chant of unity and togetherness. We couldn't hold it together. We couldn't get through it. We stumbled and suddenly, amidst the atonal dissonance, there was one voice singing, a plea, a request, a delicate urgent call for help, a despair manifesting itself upwards to the sky.

We hugged each other like it was our last time together. We stood there looking at each other smiling with sad eyes. Yes we all had problems, yes there were forces at play seeking to destroy our spirits but here we were, all stood together as one, finally, as a family.

My dad's brothers and I put our shoes and socks on, opened the back door and walked outside to light some fireworks, none of us wanting to stand in the cold and rain but needing to get through this one little traditional that each passing year we acted out begrudgingly. I walked outside expected rain to dilute my hair. I saw the delicate flow downwards of big snowflakes descend like a message from the dark ether up above. It was snowing hard. The grass of the back lawn was sprinkled with frosting, a candied sugar of anamoly. It was snowing on Diwali in October. It was a Diwali miracle. We laughed to each other. Maybe this strange circumstance was our turning point. I lit the first firework and it erupted upwards in a quick succession of silver canon blasts, erupting above our heads into stardust and blue bolts streaming outwards wildly in the snowstorm. It was soon over and we sat inside feeling like a family together against the odds, like the last gang in town, for the first time all year. Suddenly, through the bittersweet taste of aniseed and sadness, we took stock of our own private Diwali miracles and thought maybe things were finally due a change.

I'm dreaming of a white Diwali, like the ones I never knew. May our days be merry and bright. Om shanti shanti om.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Tokyo Police Club - Be Good live

It's a shame their proper recorded studio album, 'Elephant Shell' sounded too clean. They were better when scuzzy and alive.

Here they are doing 'Lesson In Crime' highlight, 'Be Good'.

more Star Trek pictures

nearly uncanny with Sylar there...

Who is Jackpot? The mystery unveiled tomorrow...

So tomorrow, we find out if Jackpot is really MJ in disguise, a copy, or a contrived revelation sloppily handled. Either way, the fanboys are going gaga.

Here are 3 reasons why MJ won't be Jackpot:

1) The Marvel writers created the status quo of non-married Spidey with a new cast of friends to youth-en him. Putting MJ back in the picture complicates things.
2) How would a deal with Mephistopheles give her secret powers?
3) Until #600 MJ is strictly bring-in-as-a-throwback-to-previous-status-quo/tempt-fanboys domain, while the characters are fleshed out and their popularlity assessed.

There is no way MJ is Jackpot (whole new huge amount of explaining/exposition to do) and it's cynical of Marvel to draw her the way they have just to create the debate.

Department of Eagles - In Ear Park (4AD 2008)

A new signing to the great 4AD stable, Department of Eagles are from Brooklyn, NY and are the duo of Daniel Rossen (Grizzly Bear) and his friend Fred Nicolaus, with additional help from two other members of Grizzly Bear, Chris Taylor and Chris Bear. Their album, 'In Ear Park' features lush concise song-writing, some maudlin pastoral Beach Boys melodies and the feeling that autumn is definitely on its way in. It is joyous and bittersweet all in the same breath, delicate and emotive in its delivery with plaintive urges from the quiet and expressive singer, Rossen. 'Around the Bay' has the swish-swash of water and the stop-start rhythms that ebb and flow with the coming and going of water, while 'No One Does It Like You' is almost funky in its romancing of the girl, cherchez-ing la femme with art-rock and fervent passion. Through a mash of alt.folk, freak folk, sixties psychedelia and the most fragrant smattering of electronica, this is a sweet album, occasionally stumbling into Spanish guitar and complex multi-harmony melodies. Songs start softly but build in intensity till an erupting climax of release. Rossen veers between lyrically literal and vague, with his descriptive reporter's eye being a mere foil for the emotion contained within. The songs are intricately nuanced and carry a feeling rather than a comment and within their core is usually a moment captured forever that the singer blissfully recalls, counting his life in coffee spoons. Department of Eagles, like Grizzly Bear that spawned them, are a careful band working through their songs with a meticulous attention to detail and a deep belief in emotion and its delivery and the cathartic experience of listening to a man's life unfold in your ears. This is a wonderful album from a wonderful label.

Official Department of Eagles
Label bidness

Here's the video to their poppy preppy almost funky 'No One Does it Like You':

Dead Set pilot (E4)

I love Charlie Brooker. He is one of the country's finest culture/art/film/TV journalists. He introduced the UK to The Wire. He made the scathingly brilliant TV Go Home, featuring an early incarnation of Nathan Barley. He regularly destroys TV's sacred cows in his Screenburn column/Screenwipe TV show, so why is it that when he turns his hand to fiction, there is a little misfire. Much as Nathan Barley was spot-on, it was 3 years too late as the target conceit had moved on and evolved and the material hadn't moved on with it. It was spot-on for 3 years before it made it to the screens. Even having Chris Morris as the director didn't stop it from feeling a little dated. Dead Set too, with its Big Brother parody (continuing the 'idiot shall inherit the earth' theme that Brooker does so well) feels slightly uninspired and lazy, especially for Brooker. Fair enough he spends much of his Screenburn column relentlessly deconstructing and destroying reality television and its evils, but a Big Brother parody? Hasn't this been covered on every sketch show ever made, from Kevin Bishop to Adam and Joe 10 years ago to Graham Norton and Friday/Sunday/HappyDay Night Project. So, doing a Big Brother parody where the contestants are vulgar preening self-obsessed idiots and so are their puppet-masters behind the cameras, doesn't it feel old?

And zombies? In the last few years, we've seen reboots of the zombie franchise, George Romero nearing cameras again, Shaun of the Dead, 28 Days Later, 28 Weeks Later, Doomsday- all parodies of the zombie genre of sorts. So what new does Charlie Brooker add?

I feel like I'm reviewing this with the same curled lip as Brooker would and for one second do I not doubt his genius. It's just, these were all the thoughts I had going into Dead Set.

First thing's first, the pilot is first half-slow, second half-frantic, it's surprisingly not that funny and there's little in the way of characterisation. But the feeling permeates that they had to get the Big Brother thing in there and out of the way quickly as that seems to be E4's big sell. Davina as a zombie. So, now they've managed to get the Big Brother parody out of the way, hopefully, episode 2 will pick up and develop potentially interesting characters and get more funny with lashing of gallows humour and lots more blood. It's surprising that it's not funny, especially seeing as it's being written by Charlie Brooker, a man renowned for being, well, funny. Jaime Winstone is the lead damsel in distress, who, if horror genre rules dictate, will have to become a strong independent woman quickly and save everyone's asses. The Big Brother contestants are suitable revolting and hopefully will suffer appropriate deaths. And while it's semi-funny to see Davina Mccall not take herself too seriously, the funniest joke comes in the form of a handicapped zombie frustrated with its inability to move. So, the rub is, there's no sense of foreboding, no real atmosphere and thus when the zombie attack comes, it comes with no sense of urgency or fright, and while this is fine, it lacks the gravitas of leaving our main players in any real sense of peril.

The first episode is alright. It's not great but it's a set-up, an in for what could be an interesting idea. Because even though Brooker was late with catching the zeitgeist in Nathan Barley, and he's late with catching the zomb-geist here, whatever he turns his hand to is usually solid. Nathan Barley was still brilliantly written and played out and the idiots did indeed inherit the earth. This has potential and I hope that over the next 4 days as it plays it, it will also pick up the pace, develop the characters and get some more zombie ass-kicking in there. Brooker usually knows what he's doing and only commits to something when he believes it to be ready, so I imagine he's deviously drawn in the wider masses with the Big Brother pastiche and will satisfy his die-hard fans with bigger pay-offs and subversive messages.

Dead Set microsite

An interview with Charlie Brooker re. Dead Set

So Charlie Brooker's new zom-com started on E4 last night. Review coming shortly but in the meantime, here's a good interview with the man-mountain.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Wrestling Banananas

It's been a while, so today I'm gonna treat you to something special..... what, you ask, is so special, especially in the world of wrestling......

How about INJURIES AND MISHAPS?!?!?!?!?!

I gotta say, in a sick and twisted way, they're almost part of the spectacle, the fact that these athletes do all this crazy shit, and rarely get injured.... or maybe you just miss it.
Whenever I've watched it Live, I've seen things go wrong, winced a little and said something like "well, that didn't quite go to plan", but it's a different story when I've searched for something gone wrong in wrestling, and I physically have to force myself to watch I hope you can do the same.....if it makes you feel any better, no one died in the following accidents, and all made a full recovery....

So Lets Begin

First up is Brock Lesnar, a man so massive and agile, he'd been saving this move for something special....Like WRESTLEMANIA...... unfortunately he didn'r do it well enough and ended up wknocked out for the rest of the match with a massive concussion....clever boy

Next is a well known injury - Sid Vicous from WCW. The Leg snap is wrong, and he took years to come back from it.....please wait for the slow mo reply, it's worth it!!

Eddie Guerrero (R.I.P). Loved this guy, he was awesome, unfortunately, in his debut match for WWE he popped his elbow out. It was pretty nasty, and you can hear it "pop"

Another one is this sick one, which looks worse than it is, he only comes out with a broken ankle, but still.....

If you still want to see more sick stuff like this, try CZW on youtube, or go to

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Amadou and Mariam - Welcome to Mali (Because 2008)

Much has been made of the perfect love held by musical duo/real-life couple, Amadou and Mariam, hailing from Mali, both blind and both as melodious as each other. They are perfect foils and mirrors for the other and together they create a joyous sound that twists and subverts their traditional Malian music into something contemporary and tinged with Western influences. A lot of that on this album can be attributed to their involvement in African Express and the subsequent help lent by Damon Albarn to the album. Opener, 'Sabali' could be a Gorrillaz tune, with its electronics and plinked and plonked thumb pianos while Mariam wails lovingly to her star-crossed lover. 'Ce N'est Pas Bon' features Albarn's participation (whatever that means) are more uptempo, featuring electronica soundscapes and a funky guitar and repeated joyous refrain meaning that it's not good, it's not good. It's a unifying sound, so pure and full of verve and vitality, so steeped in positive vibes that it's almost impossible to feel anything but joyful listening to it. With its Afrobeat foundations and the influence of Wstern sounds, it is an almost perfect modern African fusion album, however it falls prey to an arduous running time and each song tends to linger too long at the end, happy to jam till infinity. Album highlight is the hip-hop consciousness anthem 'Africa' featuring rapper K'Naan, and apart from the Albarn-influenced songs, 'Je Te Kiffe' is sexy and sweet all at the same tim, skipping along at a funky pace. Amadou and Mariam are perfect summertime festival music so it's a bit of a contrast listening to their album in sombre November. Having seen them light up the skies at Latitude this year, I can safely say they know how to rock a party and sometimes the songs shine through better when stripped away of everything except their core Malian roots folk heart. Amadou and Mariam are the voice of Africa now and it's exciting to hear how they wish to widen their influences to contemporary music from the rest of the world. But truth be told, the Malian foundations they bring are enough to make an excellent heartfelt beautiful collection of songs.

Amadou and Mariam official site

First 'Welcome to Mali' single, 'Sabali' is here:

The album is released on 17 November 2008.

Shri - Seven Steps (2008)

Shri arrives with a brand new album in the same month as Nitin Sawhney and the obvious comparisons pit Shri as the poor man's Sawhney. The trouble with this album is thus: Shri is an amazing flautist and a solid bass player. Shri is better when he is being classical or slower. When Shri tries to compete with the likes of Shiva Soundsystem or Chase and Status for dance steps, he comes off being a bit dated. 'East Rain' was great when it was slower, more concerned with song-writing and full of melody. Where 'Seven Steps' the new follow-up fails slightly is in its efforts to keep up with the fast-moving dance world. Underneath the underwhelming drums and dated bass sounds are some brilliant melodies, well-constructed songs and beautiful haunting musicality. 'Mad B-Line' shows strength in its rumbling bassline focus, skitting all over the frequencies, while 'Ga Ga Re' takes a traditional South Indian sound and stretches it in a groovy adventure in the future. There is a lot of positivity on the album and it is largely wordless and instrumental, with the occasional collaboration and you can definitely feel that Shri has created a concept in his head about what his wordless songs are about, this creating an uplifting mood throughout. It is worthy musically but the drum programming and the sound effects leave it sounding a little dated, which is a shame because Shri has spent the last 10 years showing us how talented he was. Unfortunately, he seems to have run out of steam. Which is maybe what he needs because he is best when he is classical and filmic, sound-tracking visuals and moving pictures, using his tabla, flute and aching violin to emote tears into listener's eyes. Maybe it's time for Shri to worry less about the global club scene and get to where he works best, the classical Indian sound.

Shri official site

Shri's finest moment:

Bellowhead - Matachin (Navigator 2008)

Bellowhead are described as folk-big-band, mixing folk, rock, jazz, soul and world music into a veritable smorgasbord of layers to bring out their quissessentially British outlook on the world. They are currently the South Bank Centre's Band in Residence, feature 11 musicians who play over 20 instruments and 6 actual singers. Them's the facts, now for the second album, 'Matachin'- it's musicially ambitious, incredibly admirable and wholly underwhelming all at the same time. Musicians will appreciate who they are and what they are trying to achieve by bringing together all the styles influences and players but the finally product doesn't quite reach the potential invoked by the idea itself. The music is phenomenal, veering betwen classic folk, marching band and bluesy jazz, with subtle rock and world music tinges throughout. The problem for me is the main sung vocal, weedy and pithy and somehow managing to make the amazing music he is sound-tracking sound a little school-band. 'Roll Her Down the Bay' starts well in a bluesy manner, plumping along, but as the main vocalist begins the song descends into something less worthy than its intentions. Even the harmonies going on behind him are better than him. This is no lashing out, it's just a feeling that this is a band that probably works better live than recorded and would benefit by a main vocalist with more personality, especially seeing as the musical bits are so damned talented and well put-together, full of layer, subtly and ambition. Unfortunately, quirky bordering on zany often sounds better than it is in execution.

Evidence that live, they work better:

Friday, 24 October 2008

Grammatics - The Vague Archive (Dance to the Radio 2008)

Grammatics are nothing if not uber-versatile, with their pop-driven organically shifting songs that twist and mutate from start to finish. 'The Vague Archive', released on 24th November through Dance to the Radio, is laden with choppy cellos, octave-busting vocals and a knife-like guitar cutting through the frequencies. Joined by Emilia Ergin - an ex-member of the Stockholm Youth symphony orchestra, who plays the bands murderous cello lines - the band share a collective love of classic British art bands like Blur, Echo & The Bunnymen, Suede, Bowie and My Bloody Valentine, as well as more contemporary efforts like Queens of the Stone Age and Muse. Ones to watch...

Official site

k-the-i??? - Yesterday Today and Tomorrow (Big Dada 2008)

Big Dada, not content with releasing the most cutting edge hip-hop these British isles have to offer, occasionally pushes out US releases from the outer fringes of experimental rap music. From MF Doom to cLOUDEAD and Bus Driver, they have put their weight behind US artists that don't get much of a look in the UK. k-the-i???, releasing his second album on experimental hip-hop label Mush, is their next pet project. While he's a charismatic rapper, funny like the Biz, out there like Doom and poetic like Saul Williams, it's the beats by Thavius Beck that make this album an interesting release. Thavius Beck helped Saul Williams sound punk, has leant his mixing boards to other respected experimo-hoppers, and now he's produced the entire album for ol k-the-i???. It's as much his album as the rappers, with his music pallette of electronic ablutions, prog-rap progressions, psychedelic spacey feel and grimy drums, all bottom-ended with rumbling diaphragm busting basslines. On the vocal duties, k-the-i??? gets all lovey-dovey, paranoid about new world order conspiracies, and everything else in between, roping eclectic guests like Bus Driver and Mestizo to bump up the collaboration credentials that tend to make rap albums that little bit more special. Even Thavius Beck lends his smooth tones to the ambitious 'Marathon Man'. This is an admirable, very listenable and full of little tricks and textures that make it more exciting than bog-standard hip-hop. Whether it's sustainable enough as an endless listener is still to be decided. While the going's good though, and the beats are still sounding fresh, it's worth getting yourself immersed.

Big Dada???

Black Milk dismembers Prince classics

Pretty interesting idea from one of the US's brightest producing hopes in the lieu after J Dilla (RIP) passed.

There's some tight beats

The Watchmen poster

Oh yeah.

comics round-up 24th October 2008

Amazing Spider-man #574
This is a bit of a strange one, a filler to calm everyone down after the explosive end to New Ways to Die. It also fills in while the Spidey continuity over in Secret Invasion is sorted out. This issue focuses on what happened to Flash Thompson, why he's been out of continuity since Brand New Day started. Last time we saw him, he was helping Spidey defend the school they both worked at against three Mysterios. Now we catch up with him in the new continuity. He's been back to war to fight against the Iraqis. There's a general interviewing him wanting to give him the Medal of Honour. We learn of the events that led to this, and just in case you forgot it's a Spidey comic, it refers back to classic Spider-man images to help fuel Flash's bravery. And then we find out he lost both his legs in the war. It's a strange nationalistic issue, complete filler and a bit guffy about the soldiers in Iraq. It does manage to stay apolitical about the war itself but celebratory about the good ol soldiers. I'm not really sure how to feel about it. There are other ways to do filler, maybe something more comedic, but something like this that makes a point of staying apolitical about one of the most political wars ever, that it feels a bit cowardly. Hopefully normal service is resumed next week.

Amazing Spider-man Brand New Secret Invasion #3 (of 3)
This is the final part to the Spidey Secret Invasion tie-in special. It was a bit of a weird decision to do this mini-series seeing as Spidey is so integral to the Secret Invasion action. It focuses on his new supporting cast including Menace, Jackpot and Bennett as they attempt to escape the super-Skrull out for some radioactive archno-blood. It focuses heavily on Jackpot and her fighting style and technique, brash and spunky. It's a bit of a waste as well, as its entire purpose seems to pique the reader's curiosity as to Jackpot's identity. This curiosity has only came about because the artists knowingly made Jackpot look like MJ. We know one thing for sure, she's somehow connected to a Sara Ehret and they both like calling each other Tiger. They want you to thin MJ is Jackpot at the end but the reality will be a lot more dull. We find out next week in a Spider-man Annual. But this issue is such guff and so filler-ridden, I can't even bring myself to give you the particulars of the plot. Basically, Jackpot kills the super-Skrull. She and Spidey have an inneuendo-laden chat. Then she has a bath and Sara Ehret calls her and there's a full-page teaser ad for next week's Annual that will reveal her identity. Which won't be MJ.

Secret Invasion #7 (of 8)
I really don't like this now. In Spidey Secret Invasion, there's a several weeks later coda when Parker returns to his gang and they discuss how the Skrull threat has disappeared, so we know this'll end well for the humans. The problem is there's all this stuff about the big shake up to the Marvel universe coming, and embrace change and all the rest of it. Obviously, they steer clear of any implications post-threat but still, it's given the game away surely. Anyway, this issue is the all-out action they've been promising for 7 issues and it's a bit of an anti-climax as all the threads at play for the last 7 issues and the tie-ins all come together for some balls-out action. Not good.

Daredevil #112
Thank fucking god for Brubaker. There's no Mark Millar issues of anything this week so it's kinda weak and Spidey's reeling from the seminal New Ways to Die arc with some padding but thank fuck for Daredevil, consistently brilliant, dark and gritty and plot-twists and turns, character development and pulpy artwork. Part two of the Lady Bullseye arc and the strands are starting to come together. She's testing Black Tarantula and Immortal Iron Fist, who bring the fury back. There's a masterstroke still to be revealed but you can guess that the Hand is going to be pulling the strings. Meanwhile Matt Murdoch is reeling from his night in flagrante delicto with Dakota and worrying about how much he liked it. To be honest, she's hot for comics so he shouldn't be too hung up. The end involves a tied-up Black Tarantula, a lover's tiff and a wise old Chinese man. Can't wait for the next issue. DD is killing it consistently at the moment.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Secret Watchmen viewings

You've seen this right?

well, now add this:

and these comments sound interesting... no squid?

more here

Argh this US election is driving me nuts

The world is going insane... Sad to see that an election is polarising in this way.

Herman Dune - Next year in Zion (City Slang 2008)

Herman Dune comprises two brothers, one called Herman and one called Nathan. Obviously Nathan's just the drummer so he doesn't get to be the band name. Swedish-born, Paris-raised duo, lovelies to the New York antifolk scene and friends of the always great Kimya Dawson, they deliver a dozen charming pop songs that on the surface seem simple and twee but actually are more layered than one realises.

There's a beauty and honesty to a vocalist singing love songs in English, not his mother tongue. He's more earnest and sweet than the always vague Chris Martin who only alludes to the feelings tear his soul apart. Mostly acoustic, dripping in country and Americana and containing repeated urgent refrains like 'My Home is Nowhere without You', 'Next Year in Zion' is a charming album of ditties and paeans and odes, bending the English language to whatever whimsy Herman is blown away on. There's a warmness in the honesty, an exuberance and zest for life in the acoustic strums and plaintive singing. Self-produced with warts and all, never sounding over-produced and placing deep roots in the DIY scene that celebrates them, Herman Dune have a mountain to climb, convincing the world that they are more earnest, more fun, more life affirming and more moving than any of those sombre indie bands that soundtrack adverts and rejection moments in X Factor. Herman Dune are the sound of DIY acoustic folk music sung by lovestricken troubadours wanting simply to find their way home.

Official site

Sonnyjim - Trading Standards (Eat Good 2008)

Second UK hip-hop release to come through the Pie-desk this week featuring up-and-coming battle rapper Sonnyjim, with his mixtape followup to debut EP, 'Soul Trader'. Now aligned with the unstoppable Dented fam (featuring the best talent in the UK: Stig of the Dump, Foreign Beggards, Dr Syntax, Dubbledge), Sonnyjim has upped the ante, farmed out the beat-duties to an array of top producers like Beat Butcha, Chemo and S-Type and called in some great MC's to help him destroy this mixtape. Orifice and Metropolis from Foreign Beggars, Stig and Synners from Dented, Kashmere and even Mercury-nominated Soweto Kinch all lend a hand to the Birmingham battle rappers. 'EOW Anthem' slays all the competition featuring Britain's best battle rappers. 'Stack P's', going on the all-too-familiar get money-make money theme is a scattershot double time masterstroke of funkiness while Sonnyjim's own themed tracks, 'The Pecking Order' 'The Ultimate Triumph of the Little Guy' all show the rapper's skills in songwriting as well as scathing putdowns. Sonnyjim is a talented man, sounding perpetually pissed-off and sarcastic, quick with insults and aggression, articulate and biting, funny and slightly crazy by the sounds of it. This is a strong mixtape with few slow moments, the fast is relentless and the bravado is boisterous. Not bad, sonnyjim, not bad. Good stuff.

Sonnyjim battling Stig:

Vee Kay - The Audio Workout (Sweatbox Sounds 2008)

Phew, there I was lamenting how hip hop has been uninspiring for my ol ears this year and I've given up on UK hip hop, largely due to its backward-looking nature. Then Roots Manuva drops one of the best albums of the year. Then Vee Kay and Sonnyjim both send me sterling efforts in the same week, meaning that the autumnal soundtrack for 2008 is big swinging breaks.

Bring that beat back.

Vee Kay hails from Canterbury and has a sterling body of work behind him, from 'Myster-Vee EP' to handling all the production for the brainstaining Beefeaterz album. He's been away and retreated from the microphone to concentrate on the mixing desk. He's pulled in a host of safe hands to fill in vocal duties and this album makes for a blistering listen. Featuring Wordsmith, Dubbledge, Stig of the Dump, dr Syntax, Dirtburg's Cariz and newcomer Yosh, this is a versatile listen from start to finish. Album highlight is the hilarious and ominous 'Bogey Homicide' by Welsh crew, Dead Residents. Junior Disprol laces the funkiest break in Christendom with a macabre tale of death by nasal projectile, while Chud Jackson, the Valley's answer to Flava Flav gets militant on yo asses. The smooth beat and its easy trajectory down a strolling bassline make it the strongest track of the album. Wordsmith pops up twice, one on the introspective 'Bring Me Down' and on the fiery spiky 'Lok Dat' featuring an effortlessly playful Dubbledge delivering a technically immaculate and lyrically scathing verse. 'Way We Live' has Cariz from legendary live funk hip-hop band Dirtburg getting all nostalgic and sweet on a summery break. Vee Kay's musical ability to mould samples into new songs, taking the original and making it new, his canny knowledge of feel-good drums and his direction of his vocalists make him a producer to contend with. There's not a dull moment on here, and the summery, funky, trumpet-laden production may take its cue from 'the golden age of hip-hop' but is still able to add something and fresh and energetic to the mix. This is a digital release so go seek it on iTunes and all the major download sites. It's worth it, for 'Bogey Homicide' and searing double-time destruction of 'Goldwings' featuring rapper du jour, Dr Syntax and Stig of the Dump on fine speccy'n'fatty form. Go seek, and work it out.
Click here for a free download of the track 'Why Oh Why' featuring talented newcomer Yosh MC.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Jeremy Warmsley - How We Became (Transgressive 2008)

Literary electro-troubadour Jeremy Warmsley follows up his debut, 'The Art of Fiction' with another awkward indie-pop run through the electronica filter effort of ambitious musings and verbose rantings. Occupying a similar landscape to Mystery Jets (with his oblique references to awkwardness and pastoral innocence), Patrick Wolf (with the muddying of indie and electronica), and The Divine Comedy (bombastic ambitious lyrical conceits with literary references and a nodding wink), this is a versatile album that veers between self-reflection with Sins (I Try) and jaunty pop on Dance With the Enemy. Warmsley's warm voice, ivory-tinkling and scattershot electric drums all provide the perfect accompaniment for journeying through streets and fields and country houses and indie discos. This album is a grower, filling up your ears with intricate nuances each time you hear it. The layers seep into more layers and the texture becomes polished. Album highlight is the rude and scathing ballad, 'If He Breaks Your Heart', warning an unseen voice that 'if he takes the piss, I will break his face'. Suddenly the twee affected dandy doesn't seem like the pushover you assume him to be. When Warmsley sits down to write a simple sombre song free of sonics, he is successful as he paces his way through the poignant 'Craneflies' nostalgic and seasonal. This is definitely for those who want thoughtful lyrics with their bizarre subversions of indie. Worth dipping into.

Video for strong album opener, 'Lose My Cool'

Los Campesinos! - We are Beautiful We are Doomed (Wichita 2008)

This second album from twee-ndie pop combo Los Campesinos is a melodic, catchy and cutesy countdown to destruction. The irresistible cheery charm belies a lyrical conceit obsessed with armageddons and crashing skies and the wondrement of destruction, all in synth-based girl-boy frenetic guitar fashion. The song, 'We are Beautiful We are Doomed' is lyrically apocalyptic and bouncy all at once, creating this uneasy fission of dancing into oblivion. The point is, we're all beautiful, we're all together in this and we're all doomed. Hence the album title. It's a good mixture of emotions that give you space to think as well as nod your head. It's not as poe-faced as a polemical conscious album, instead the playful boy-girl vocals and repeated happy guitar lines give it a glitzy self-aware almost wry feel. 'You'll Need Those Fingers For Crossing' lets up the pace with a yearning wailing for a "soft porn version of the end of the world". It's amazing to think that 5 months ago Los Campesinos released their debut album, the frenzied 'Hold On Now Youngster' so it's impressive to think that they can keep things fresh and creative with this bolder more refined version of their sound. The songwriting is better, the melodies interchange with more confidence and when the tender 'Heart Swells/Pacific Daylight Time' hits your ears, you're swooning in a maudlin headrush. They're still developing and they're still getting better and imagine them in another six months, they'll be world-beating alongsides the likes of Mystery Jets. In the meantime, think of this as a companion to the short sharp 'Hold On Now Youngster' and while the music doesn't always keep up with the acute wit of the lead singer, lyrically this is a strong insightful album with tunes in spades, for a band constantly learning at being themselves but better.

Video for one of their strong earlier singles, 'We Throw Parties, You Throw Knives'

Offical site

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

photos for new Star Trek flick

Oh yes... here are new photos for Star Trek, the JJ Abrams version and yes that is Tim Bisley as Scotty and yes that is Sylar as Spock.

Anticipation for the nation.


Ever wish the lyrics of a song actually corresponded with the accompanying music video?

So do we.

All hail Dickie Dawkins

Richard Dawkins certainly has a bee in his bonnet about god-botherers. He's going to do something about it.

If there's no one you can turn to, if there's no hope left, maybe you can hire the A(theist) Team.

Monday, 20 October 2008

"Keepin it real...there's no real to keep" Nerdcore Rising Movie Movie Review

You might never see another hiphop documentary as good as this...I'm therial. Largely for the same reasons 'Nerdcore' even exists. It's honest, unabashed, well made and genuinely funny rather than an hour and change of inflated egos slurring cliches at a handycam, usually thankfully inaudible due to crappy production values and crappier sound mixing/royalty free beats.

The story goes that Song Fight provided the catalyst; they give you a title, you go away and make a song based on it, submit it and users vote for their favourite (what happened to this creativity in regular hiphop? How did battling degenerate into picking holes in each other's wardrobe choices? But I digest...). MC Frontalot aka Damien (32 year old web designer with a bad back) has never been defeated which is impressive in itself...but the website and his success delivered unto him fans of what he was calling 'Nerdcore', essentially a word he coined to just describe what he was doing, making the music he loved without compromising who he was one killabyte.

The movie follows Frontalot on his first nationwide tour, which is serving as the acid test for whether or not he can make a career out of music. And things kick off with...a drip. We follow Front and Co through performances at several hick towns (that's ballsy) along the southern Eastern seaboard, playing to very sparse crowds of kids (maybe they have space issues) in coke-bottle-bottom glasses who have spent $2Gs on Magic The Gathering cards, with speech impediments and underbites, sporting t shirts with algorithms and comedy Warcraft references on them....but what they lack in numbers they make up for in spirit, many driving hours to catch the shows.

Musically, Front is under no illusions. "I'm not good at rapping, I'm OK at rapping" and yeah he kind of has one flow, a singsongy delivery with a little double time flourish in it. I admit as a hiphop fan and being mixed race (I'm a cool-nerd and so rejected by both cultures) it's hard to adjust to; we're programmed to seek the 'cool' in music which as one fan puts it "Being a rockstar is kinda the opposite of what Nerdcore is about". It's honest awkwardness is it's refreshing charm but his delivery does have a air of Whose Line Is It Anyway..."do the credits in the styyyyle ooofffff...a rapper!"

But there's no denying the wit at work and play here. Songs like Hassle The Dorkening, Crime Spree and ode to net-porn Click to Close (with a line I know GP's Arfur Breakspear can relate to "Got a boat load of midgets and they're in command/Of a full grown woman on her knees and hands") overcome the twee delivery in a way that will touch the soul of many an inner-nerd.

It doesn't work for everybody. "He sucks, he sounds like Robin Williams, looks like Kelsey Grammar...but his band jams" but anyone with a little nerd in 'em can't help but identify with and root for the kids who love him. In the fan vox pops a real sense of pain and displacement comes across but also of nerd-pride and "Being cool despite what we do, being cool because of what we do". These kids have had it rough, but in nerdcore found somewhere where they belong, where cool is being not-cool.

With contributions from and intelligent questions to a diverse cast of contributors such as Prince Paul ("regular hiphop is 90% front and 10% honest, a lot of sincerity is lost"), Al Yankovich, J Live and Jello Biafra the film bravely tackles subjects like whether N-core could go mainstream and the misappropriation of culture. One Nerdcore MC points out that "a lot of it is novelty" and a number of other MCs on the scene are tapped for their perspectives. Judging by what I've seen on Youtube some of them fall into this category and honestly shouldn't be calling themselves MCs (stand up Dr Popular, Beefy etc)...they're all kinds of awful. You probably couldn't make this movie without contributions from these guys but if there's a flaw I would say their inclusion was it.

In the end, what you have is a road movie with a happy ending, about a music genre you thought couldn't possibly exist, with a bunch of guys who couldn't possibly make it (could they?), filled with insight, humanity, humour and HeadsShouldersKnees&Toes and/or Wookie-based pre-show rituals.

So take 80 minutes off dedicating your life to achieving the goal of supreme masculinity and watch. There is no future in your fronting, but maybe there is in Damien's....

"How's the tour going so far?"
"Is it?"

MC Frontalot Official Site

Riz MC - Radar (Crosstown Rebels 2008)

Riz MC has been on the radar for a few years now. First with the caustic and contemporary political assault on 'George and Osama', with 'Post 911 Blues' and its accompanying imaginative video. He has acted in some of the most thought-provoking drama of the last years, particularly in terms of Islamophobia and integration post 7/7 bombings. He acted in 'The Road to Guantanemo' and 'Britz' both relevant slices of proper drama. He's in Charlie Brooker's next big sitcom project, Dead Set. He's toured America with Sway and Scroobius Pip, supported Dizzee Rascal and opened Meltdown Festival at the personal behest of Massive Attack. This is a man with talent in spades and shovels and landfills and quarries. Don't call him the next big thing because he operates best under the radar.

Which brings us nicely to his first 12" released through Crosstown Rebels, containing two tracks that have been pulsing in our headphones for a good few months now, finally given a proper release. 'Radar' is about you, and me, and us, and them and everyone around us, all desperate to fit in, all wanting to be part of something. But what is that thing we want to be a part of and why is it broken, why is it slightly darker than we give it credit for? We're suffocating in labels and information and the web and things to click on, look at, look for, discover the next big thing, and we are overloading with too much too quickly. We don't absorb, we skim everything. We pigeon-hole and label everything place it in its box. Everything in its right place, sang Radiohead. I can't turn my radar off, urges Riz. Over heartbeat monitor bass drums and squelches and electronic dischords firing off like explosions, the minimalist nature of Radar works on two levels. It is very now, very electronic and full of the bleeps and clicks and experience hits we all search for, computerised and downloadable. It also works as a throb making you twist your body into sinews you never knew were possible. Radar is the sound of the street regurgitated through a computer and twist into something relevant and poetic. 'People like People' is the B-side getting its physical release after being put on iTunes earlier this year. This is a song about layers and each time the verse comes in, new layers are added till at the end you want to run up walls and fly off bridges. It's again, electronic and edgy, pulsating with urgency and power. Riz again gives us a modern slice of life discussing people and what they want out of life, what they aspire to be and to do, and what they pretend to aspire to be and do. It speaks of the pressure to conform to a prescribed idea of coolness that doesn't really exist, and when you break down that coolness into its component parts, it seems... ugly. "People like rock stars who do smack, singers that get trashed, and models that might snap...” Riz never gets righteous and wags his finger. He takes a watcher's stance, commenting never judging, wryly poking fun but never dismissing. He has a true poet's gift for words and a journalist edge to his social commentary. This is one of the best releases to come out this year because it is so spot on in every way and meticulously put together. Riz MC is the sound of the future. Go out, find this, own this, download this, press play, bob your head and recognise.

comics round-up 16th October 2008

Amazing Spider-Man #573
'New Ways to Die' finishes with a bang and a strangely political coda this week witht he face-off fanboys having been waiting to see for ages. FInally Spidey and Norman Osborn, sorry no, scratch that, Spider-man and The Green Goblin 1.0 square off in a fight to the finish while Osborn's towering mansion collapses around them. Meanwhile, the Scorpo-Venom and Anti-Venom finish what they started, only this time it's hardly a fair fight with Scorpo-Venom carrying a serum taken from Freak's blood. It's an excellent finale and we start to learn more about what is going on behind the scenes. There are hints of Harry being Menace, and definitely being up to something involving a dangerous chemical currently being tested on human guinea pigs. There's also a throwaway storyline features everyone's favourite right wing gun nut Steven Colbert. Enthralling stuff.

Mighty Avengers #19
Here we learn the back story of Mar-vell and how he came to be infiltrated by Skrull impersonators. Yawn- more action please Bendis.

Robin #179
This continues the search for a hero arc. Batman is definitely missing. We know that much will happen at the end of Batman RIP and Robin's shouldering a huge mission while Nightwing is distracted in New York with Harvey Dent. Robin's got school, Spoiler and all-out gang warfare to contend with, as well as the dreaded Red Robin. Great issue, full of action and fast moving plot heading towards to a potentially inevitable finale. Will Robin be Batman?

Uncanny X-Men #503
The Hellfire Club has been infiltrated by a mysterious woman. Pixie is still smarting after the vicious attack on her. The X Men are chasing a skilled Empath through the streets of San Francisco. And Cyclops and Emma Frost are getting it on in the depths of a sex club. All the strands are pulling together and closing in a web on the X Man leader, Cyclops with the mysterious reappearance of his long dead wife.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

The Indelicates - Waiting for Pete Doherty To Die

Indeed... topical scathing snarling riposte to the dead man walking from Avocado friends, The Indelicates:

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Fringe series 1 pilot (2008)

Fringe is the new sassy sci-fi series from TV overlord with a hankering for 'strong ass-kicking FBI girls' J.J. Abrams. Maybe he watched too much X-Files as a teenager and carried a torch for Agent Scully, wanting to recreate her in as many of his projects as possible. And this follows suit. Fringe is his new mysterious series about all manner of paranormal and fringe science events effects every day working-non-believing-stiffs. As with Lost and Alias, this relies highly on the main protagonist and the audience being in the dark from the get-go and slowly uncovering the true intentions of a secret organisation that has been manipulating us all, like the Dharma Collective, and that secret organisation in Alias whose name escapes me.

There are three notable things about this extended pilot.

1) The main female gets in her undies, takes a cocktail including ketamine and LSD and hopes into a sensory deprivation tank for a Vulcan mindmeld with her melting boyfriend.

2) Joshua Jackson, who gave the world illustrious smart-ass characters like Pacey from the frighteningly quilt-like Dawson's Creek, is back on our screens, and reasonably watchable.

3) Lt/Major/Deputy Commissioner/Commissioner/Lawyer Daniels from The Wire is back, and playing to type as the ass-busting-using-non-verbal-communication hardass boss Broyles, and we heart the jazz-playing slaphead.

So, what is Fringe about. The premise is about fringe science. It follows the exploits of FBI Special Agent Olivia Dunham, scientist Walter Bishop, and his son Peter as they investigate aspects of fringe science (telepathy, levitation, invisibility, reanimation, etc). All over the world, a series of apparent experiments collectively referred to as "the Pattern" (e.g., a newborn baby who became 80 years old in a few minutes, etc.) are occurring for reasons unknown. Olivia, Peter, and Walter are in charge of investigating these strange events to determine their source. Connected to the Pattern is a company called Massive Dynamic, which is a leading global research company that holds the patents for a number of new and important technologies. So far, quite X Files right?

The plot involves a flight where the passengers all get exposed to a synthetic toxin that melts their skins. After investigating possible leads, Olivia Dunham's main squeeze gets exposed to its raw compounds and nearly melts. So she finds a professor who is an expert in such fringe things, only he's locked up in a loony bin and the only one who can get through to him is wise-cracking cynical Pacey Jackson. So once the scientist and his brainiac chaperone son are roped in, they start investigating the mysterious melting incident, leading them to a company that may prove to be quite significant, called Massive Dynamics, where they meet with a woman who will obviously turn out to be evil because she has a robot arm. I'll leave you there to avoid any more spoilers.

It's very watcheable and has the beginnings of that classic JJ Abrams tic, where instead of actual proper drama and exposition, they dangle mystery carrots that keep you watching. So essentially you're watching for the revelations rather than the excitement and pace of an excellent sci-fi show. Which is where Lost erm lost me.

Apart from that, pilots are always a contrivance to get the dynamic of the cast of characters working together. Rarely do we open on a team that is well-oiled and knows each other inside out. There's always the conflict, the sense of change and newness that instigates all pilots. So we'll see how this one develops. It's on the watch list for the moment. But stray too close to X Files and it may lose me. Also noteable is the scene where they're making a cure, and there's some definite test-tube porn going on. It's like the scene in A Team where the marching music propels the team to work together and build something badness.

Fringe, somehwat offkilter but possibilities abound.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Mr Lingo's Funktropic Paradise October 2008

We bring you funk DJ extraordinaire Mr Lingo's monthly round-up of what's hot and engraved on waxy vinyl discs the size of your mug, moon-face. And remember kids, don't download... get in shopping mode.

#1 - Bamboos - Side Stepper LP

This is the 3rd LP from Australia's biggest and best import. With the Tribe Called Quest artwork, and 4 or 5 standout tracks including 'I Cant' Help Myself' and 'King of The Rodeo' as featured in my charts before this is probably the most eagerly anticipated of their LP's to date, and certainly doesn't disappoint. Featuring all manner of guest soloists from Kylie Auldist to Megan Washington this really is the funk album to buy this year, and the live show you really should see when they tour the UK later this year.

#2 - Mr Scruff & Alice Russell - Music Takes Me Up 12"

Guess who's got another album out? Mr Scruff delivers the first offering on his Ninja Tuna imprint taken from the LP of the same name. This 12" features 3 tracks from the coming LP and features the one and only Alice Russell on the vocals. 'Music Take Me Up' has been disrupting, destroying and damaging dancefloors with its jazz-soul-funk-floor loveliness and this is exactly what you expect from the Scruffster; wobbly wonky dancefloor tracks that always put a smile on your face. Awesome!

#3 - Herbaliser - Can't Help This Feeling 12"

Bit of a departure from the usual Herbaliser fayre of anthemic hip hop monsters as this takes a more broken beat and breaksy tip from thier new LP 'Same As It Never Was.' Their love for all things jazz, funk, rare groove shines through and opens the Herbaliser up to a whole new audience. With a new label, a new main vocalist, and a new focus on soulful songwriting, this could well be their richest and most diverse record so far.

#4 - Diplomats Of Solid Sound - If You're Wrong 7"

Second single from the Diplomats of Solid Sound album and the magic combo of The Diplomats and Lack Of Afro are back. After producing his full lenght album, Lack of Afro aka Adam Gibbons has picked up and reworked another track from the US ambassadors of funk & soul's album, and as usual delivers a heavy dose of breaks, percussions, deep funk and dancefloor grooves.

#5 - Midnight Express - Danger Zone 12"

Lead by the fabulous Robbie M, the Midnight Express Show Band recorded one of the hottest boogie tunes ever in Danger Zone. This gets a full length working over and re-edit that is guaranteed to please no end of dancefloors and disc jockeys alike.

#6 -Various - Hollertronix Vol 9

Anyone who loves rawkus electronic booty moosic knows about Diplo, and the Hollertronix series. The 9th installment from the Mad Decent/Money Studies camp sees Buraka Som Sistema team up with Diplo & Skream for a couple of insane remixes alongsde DJ Znobias 'Patchy Luanda' and Radioclit's 'Africa'. Rare, but worth it.

#7 Roots Manuva - Again & Again 7"

From the eagerly awaited and acclaimed new LP from Roots, 'Slime & Reason' this 7" comes equipped with an Arctic Monkeys remix of Again & Again that should have the cross-over appeal it desires as they take on Roots Manuva's latest with a pair of uncompromising dubstep steppers.

#8 - Mr Scruff - Kalimba 12"

Another 12" from Ninja Tuna; with yet more funk inside his capacious, magical trunk. Aimed full-square and flat out at what is technically called 'dancefloor domination'. 'Kalimba' will give DJs everywhere a chance to relax, kick back and have a cup of tea for five minutes, while their crowd goes wild. 'Give Up To Get' carries on where 'Kalimba' lets off. Brass, low-slung groove, some squiggly keyboard, it's an unrelenting monster.

#9 - Taggy Matcher - Rappoors Delaaght 7"

I love this 7"! Busta Rhymes infamous 'Woo Haa!' is layerd up over an awesome reggae cover of Sugarhill Gangs 'Rappers Delight'. The resultant mash up is first class, with excellent production with the choice pairing of Busta Rhymes and this rare reggae riddim.

#10 - Aldo Vannucci & Futurecast - Blue Grassed Devil 12"

4 tracks of breaksy mash-up sick b-boy action!! Aldo Vannucci and Futrecast team up for some peak time Nu-Funk breaks extravaganzas which will definately turn the action up on the dancefloor and keep the whole place moving. Up-front funk for the more breaks orientated.

That's all for this month, funkateers and muskahounds... cop them shits before the oil in your barrell goes the way of the credit biscuit and disappears forever.

Wax lyrical y'all.

Concrete and Glass (Festival 2008)

Concrete and Glass is billed as London's armed response to uber-festival SXSW in Texas. Spread out over two days (quite bizarrely a Thursday and a Friday) and many venues between Brick Lane and Shoreditch, it plays host to cream of the crop bands du jour and bands to be. While it is a bit too spread out to manage on a blustery cold September evening, the Friday proved to be one of the best nights out in ages. Despite the ridiculousness of moving TV on the Radio from a carpark to a roadblock, there was still plenty to see. But we'll get to TVOTR later, as they were my must-see band of the festival, and everyone else's it later transpired.

We started off in the MacBeth watching the teenage stylings and moddish lo-fi grungings of young pups Let's Wrestle whose fun punky Pavement-esque songs were funny and anthemic, and made me also want to be in Husker Du. They were easy to listen to and full of personality. Despite some clanging sound issues they managed to rock us up and pump us full of energy for the night ahead. It was then time to quickly check out the bizarre and beautiful Lykke Li doing her best impression of Bjork turning up to a fancy dress party as Madonna and flirting with Goldfrapp. While her album, 'Youth Novels' is dogged by being too similarly tempoed, this was a rush of beauty and energy with a brilliant cover of Vampire Weekend's 'Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa' seguing nicely into her own 'Dance Dance Dance'. We headed back to Shoreditch, to the Old Blue Last to see hotly-tipped Micachu but first on was acoustic minstrel Kid Harpoon who I had heard a lot about and was expecting big things from. Sadly, his slightly high-pitched voice and sudden veers into 6th form poetry ('red is the colour you bleed' type stuff) made for it being a bit teenage James Blunt. He met a heroes welcome and had all the moves and some tidy guitar playing, excellently bashing his unplugged guitar, but lyrically and vocally he wasn't beautiful, it's true. Next up, Micachu who blew us away to high buggery and back repeatedly for a concentrated thirty minutes. With her backing back, a gorgeous girl on electronics and percussion and a blonde drummer with the skills, she treated us to electronic experimental garage punk subverted classical music. With her assymetric curly mop-top and sideways snarl she destroyed the vocals sounded like a cockney Julian Casablancas, thrashing out her pint-sized acoustic guitar effected to sound like pure garage punk bliss. There was no hoover this time but with her backing band on full electronics, twisting and manipulating sounds into bliss-filled oblivion, she brought the off-kilter funk and energy to proceedings. She is truly brilliant.

We headed over to attempt to get into Cargo, where they had moved TV on the Radio, my favourite band at the moment. However, moving the biggest draw from an expansive carpark to a 500 capacity venue like Cargo was a silly business. There was already 500 people outside in the queue, meaning that inside was already at full capacity with an entire new compliment of punters waiting to get in. It was impossible. We gave up and headed elsewhere to explore this fine festival's excellent curation. We soon discovered that TV on the Radio were the last band on, a fine close to a fine festival. It's a shame we were left outside while they reigned inside, full of life itself.

Evidence of Micachu's brilliance:

Monday, 13 October 2008

comics round-up 9th October 2008

Bit late again, sorry, but since Spidey went on a three week hiatus it's been painful waiting for the conclusion to the truly awesome New Ways to Die.

Amazing Spider-man Family #2
In a story by Ardudi and Bachs, we track a crime across the years as we see a criminal's path covered from the Daily Bugle to the DB, involving the Bodega Burgler. Then, in Mr. and Mrs. Spider-Man, DeFalco and Ron show you how a father like Peter Parker deals with leaving his child for the day remembering how his parents never returned when they last left him. Also, we see more slices of Peter Parker's Brand New World and take a look at this month's Amazing returning villain, Hammerhead. This is filler in preparation for the next Spidey. Also, the next Amazing Spider-man Family in November will contain the big reveal we've all been waiting for, Who is Jackpot? Allegedly, Mr and Mrs Spider-man is going to end as well as they bring the Amazing Spider-girl into the Amazing Spidey Family fold, further proof of trying to bury the Pete/MJ marriage. Shame as Spider-girl had some good writing.

Amazing Spider-man Brand New Day Collection #1
This collects the first month in the brand new day of Peter Parker, as we meet his new supporting cast, including some old friends; see what this new alternate Spidey has been up to since Civil War seeing as he hasn't had to contend with death and destruction in his family, and the Maggia resurfaces battling the mysterious Mr Negative. This is a great return to form for Spidey post- contraversial and disappointing One More Day and the cynical movie tie-in that was Back in Black. Back to the wise-cracking, damsel-saving hero that we all know and love. Forge the messageboards, this is classic stuff in the making.

Batman Confidential #22
This ties in nicely with The Dark Knight film and shows an evening of chaos as Batman, new to Gotham and the hearts and minds of its distrusting policeforce, hauls in the mysterious macabre maniacal Joker for the first time. Over the course of the evening, we watch him cause absolute chaos from his cell, in his cell and through his cell. Despite the cartoon-friendly artwork, the Joker is up to his black best with devilish schemes and no remorse. Full of gallows humour and truly chilling behaviour, this is very readable stuff.

Detective Comics #849
In this penultimate chapter of the 5-part arc "Heart of Hush," Batman tears his way through Gotham City's underworld to reach his dangerous adversary. But after the Dark Knight learns what his childhood friend-turned-villain is really after, will Batman be able to survive what Hush plans next? The lives of both Bruce Wayne and Tommy Elliot come full circle in this story of beginnings and brutal endings! We find out what Hush has been scheming, what has happened to Catwoman, some great action and a confusing ending what with what's going on in RIP. The great payoff of Hush revealing what's underneath those bandages and what he plans to do mirrors the Black Glove's plan greatly. Leading up to an explosive and damning finale in the next issue.