Stuff that pops into my head. Innit.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Top 10 albums of the year

When I did this last year (not on here, sorry) I really thought that because the quality of the top 5 albums in the list ( Black Gives Way To Blue, Battle For The Sun, Crooked Timber, Grey Britain and Mariachi El Bronx) That it was going to be a one - off. You know, the much talked about death of the music industry beyond the current Reality TV led acts, other assorted pop trash and the Bieber demon. 
This years list is much better than last years. Waaaaaaaaay better. So, providing you like broadly the same styles of music as I do, you're probably better served in 2010 than you ever have been - you just have to look a bit harder to find the acts you really love.

Before we get to the actual top 10, a little bit about some albums which didn't make the cut.

Marina and the Diamonds - The Family Jewels. An excellent pop debut from the Welsh diva, this proves that not all chart music has to be vacuous rubbish.
Sleigh Bells - Treats. This probably would have made the top10 if I'd gotten it a bit earlier, it's a really good pop punk album, well worth checking out.
Cancer Bats - Bears, Mayors, Scraps and Bones. Another rock hard effort from Canada's finest. It is, however, completely overshadowed by their previous album Hail Destroyer, and for that reason it doesn't make it onto the main list. Sorry guys, I still love you though.

Right then, onto the countdown.

10. Yeasayer - Odd Blood.

This sounds like a cross between The Flaming Lips, Radiohead and David Bowie. Utterly brilliant synth pop with massively expressive vocal harmonies.
Standout Tracks - Ambling Alp, Madder Red.

9.  Alkaline Trio - This Addiction

The Chicago punks return with an album which far exceeds expectations.
The title track sets the tone with its exploration of heroin addiction as a metaphor for relationships, but it's "The American Scream"--a gritty, neo-gothic parable--that best illustrates Alkaline Trio's unique take on the world using only 3 chords.  
Standout Tracks - Fine, The American Scream

8. Hot Chip - One Life Stand

This band gets more sophisticated with each release. it's not as instantaneous as their earlier work, but it's more rewarding, and sees them stepping out of James Murphy's rather large and very talented shadow.
Standout Tracks - Alley Cats, Thieves in the Night

7. Gorillaz - Plastic Beach

In most years I'm fairly confident that this would sail to the No.1 spot pretty easily, so much so, it feels slightly ridiculous ranking it so low. Sorry Damon.
The whole thing works beautifully, moreso with each listen.
Standout Tracks - Stylo, Some Kind of Nature

6. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Beat the Devil's Tattoo.

Acoustic ballads, space-rock forays, and splashes of glam bubble up before it's all over, while a pervasive darkness holds the album together. Devil's Tattoo is unremittingly grim, and undeniably fun. I love this.
Standout tracks - Aya, Bad Blood

5. Alain Johannes - Spark

It wasn't that long ago that I reviewed this, go here to read it. Only the shortness of Spark kept it from the top spot. Easily my favourite 30 minutes of music this year.
Standout Tracks - Endless Eyes, Gentle Ghosts

4. Deftones - Diamond Eyes

When I reviewed this back in march (here) I really couldn't see anything beating it to the top spot, such was my love for it. Nearly 9 months on, I still feel the same way about the album - which should give you a clue to how good the next 3 are.
Standout tracks - Sextape, You've seen the Butcher

3. LCD Soundsystem - This is Happening

There aren't many albums where you love every single track the first time you hear it. This is one of them. Easily LCD's strongest outing, brilliance from start to finish My review here .
Standout tracks - Dance Yrslef Clean, You Wanted A Hit

2. Tricky - Mixed Race

Dense yet accessible, fleeting but full of memorable moments, Tricky's done here what he always does at his best, let the listener share the soundtrack of his involving, nomadic, outsider spirit. Absolutely awesome, his best since Nearly God.
Standout tracks - Every Day, Come To Me.

1. Chemical Brothers - Further

Free from building tunes to fit collaborators – with the exception of snatches of Tom Rowlands or Stephanie Dosen (on Snow), used more as accents and motifs than to guide proceedings – the duo are let loose to stretch their disco legs and make the technology the star. Synths are brutally manhandled and pushed to their limits across the eight tracks, with the pair’s well-known winning recipe of techno textures and mind-tilting psychedelia unleashed. Turn all the lights off, close your eyes and listen to this through the darkness. Incredible.
Standout tracks - All of them.

"Yay, we won!"

Thursday, 25 November 2010

The Ashes

No, not what will be left shortly after my wooden box heads into the flames accompanied by the strains of Pearl Jam's "Alive", but rather a series of cricket matches between the league of nations currently passing as England, and Australia.
For most of my life Australia have been pretty much dominant in this contest, as they've tended to be -for a variety of reasons- in most sporting rivalries between GB/England and themselves.
This time however, things promised to be different.
England are the current holders of the tiny trophy, having won reasonably convincingly last time on their home patch. Their build up to the first test was pretty much flawless, having won all their warm up games and having a fully fit squad to choose from.
Australia on the other hand, have been in a seemingly downward turn since the break up of what may have been the best team ever and the current team was probably rightly considered the underdogs to win.
Last night, in sunny Brisbane various South Africans, Scots, Welshmen and a couple of Englishmen stood and watched as their captain won the toss and decided to bat on a flat looking GABBA pitch.
3 balls later, the English captain was heading back to the pavillion. Peter Siddle, a man not really fit to polish Glen McGrath's anything, turned up and took 6 wickets. The top scorer for England was Ian Bell. An Australian.

It was all bluff and bluster before they got out there, I even had a couple of people joyously inform me that it was going to be 5-0 to England. It still might be of course, but I doubt it.
England and their fans -the incredibly irritating "Barmy Army"- seem to have forgotten the single greatest reason Australia always does well in any sporting endeavour. They will fight forever to win anything.

Lets hope it continues to be enough.

A cricket, yesterday

Monday, 22 November 2010

Top 10 overrated things

10. The Foo Fighters.
They started out well enough and were ok up until the point Pat Smear decided to do something else, now though they seem intent on proving how "nice" Dave Grohl is and being seen to be wacky, to the detriment of their music.

9. Ugg Boots. Wildly unattractive footwear worn exclusively by people who watch Jeremy Kyle.

8. Reality TV. Has spawned such Luminaries as Jedward, Cheryl Cole and Jade Goody. That's more than enough reason to hate it.

7. Blue Cheese. I love cheese, all types of it. Stilton and Gorgonzola though make me heave. They have an awful rancid metallic taste that I just can't stomach.

6. Jared Leto's dancing. No matter what you might think of 30 Seconds to Mars musically, Mr Leto dances like an octogenarian ballerina. Give it up.

5. Christmas. I don't know what it's like where you are, but Christmas here starts about mid September. Too much. I'm refusing to say Happy Christmas to anyone until the week before the actual event. And no, I don't want a fecking mince pie.

4. Twilight. I mean really?  He lives in a forest and sparkles in the sunlight? That's a fairy, not a vampire. And he drives a Volvo.

3. McDonalds. I heard someone refer to McDonalds as a restaurant. I might start calling my back garden The Serengeti, or Kakadu, maybe Monument Valley. It's as close to any of them as McDonalds is to a restaurant.

2. The Daily Mail. Possibly the worst newspaper in the world. Why? A newspapers job is to inform us of the news, not tell us what our opinions on it should be. The DM's ideal headline would be along the lines of "Gay Islamic terrorist devil dog in plot to burn Union Jack".

1. The Beatles. The Beatles music can be split into 2 categories. Nursery rhyme crap and pretentious crap. It is, however, all crap.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Short thoughts

First up, Jedward.
Now I realise this may not be the best news you've had all week, but bear with me. I was blissfully unaware of these two cretins until a short while ago when I saw them murdering "Ice-Ice Baby" (Yes, that is possible) and as I don't watch reality TV, I thought that would be my thankfully brief journey to planet Jedward at an end.
Alas friends, I was mistaken. Nintendo have employed the pair of strangely coiffed belters in their christmas advertising campaign.
Get ready to cry. To be honest, I'm still not entirely convinced there's 2 of them - I think it might all be done with mirrors.

Cat vs alligators. Guess what happens here. Yes, that's right.
The feline fighter fends off the gator with a jab Manny Pacquiao would be proud of, so the gator goes and gets it's mate. The cat then proceeds tyo see both gators off the premises. Ace.

Finally today, a music video. I think you'd better get used to this, because in my opinion it's going to be huge very soon.
The world needs more women in school uniform swinging baseball bats.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

MCR - Danger Days : The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys

Things kick off all Songs For The Deaf as our host of sorts, pirate radio DJ Dr Death Defying (the fat guy from Gerard Way’s wife’s band) welcomes the Killjoys with a great big clarion call, this is essentially the start of the video for Na Na Na, which is next up. You’ve probably all heard this by now, and I’d guess a fair few of you are singing the annoyingly catchy chorus right now, I know I am. Anyway in this song, the boys appear to be slightly camp dayglo outlaws at a moto-X rally. Which is nice. So far, pretty much what we knew then, but hang on, things get stranger later.

Sing and Planetary (Go!) are both reasonably straight ahead rock songs, the latter being slightly better thanks to a kind of Gary Numan/ Human League thing going on behind it.This gives way to some jerky, sharp guitar work as the boys get a tad more macho toward the end of the song, which improves it greatly.
Next up is the strangest track so far. The Only Hope For Me Is You is a strange synthy ballad, very theatrical, very MCR. At one point they seem to morph into a cross between the Scissor Sisters and the Chemical Brothers -which is nice- but sadly this doesn’t last too long. this is my favourite so far.
Party Poison sounds a bit like The Hives, and has the faint whiff of album filler about it, not brilliant.
Save Yourself, I’ll Hold Them Back is a giant MOR love plea to MCR’s adoring hordes, complete with lyrically familiar territory “We can live forever if you’ve got the time.” croons Way. I’m a bit busy right now G, I’ll call you later.
My goodness, what have we here? A full on, ludicrously gay Extreme/Starship/Reo Speedwagon lighters-in-the-air anthem. Well, yeah. But it’s buried beneath a rumbling bass and a lot of feedback, so much so that you can barely makeout the vocal. I like this one too, Scarecrow
Summertime sounds exactly like The Cure. No, really, it does.
Destroya sounds like a heavy metal Primal Scream or Placebo doing a song from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Nearly brilliant with a great guitar groove, this is my new favourite.
A slow and cold number is up next, The Kids From Yesterday- it suffers badly from being straight after Destroya.
Goodnight Doctor Death and Vampire Money round out Danger Days, the latter sounding like vintage Iggy and the Stooges, which of course is no bad thing.

I'm not sure red is his colour.....

MCR have made a fun but well rounded and meaningful album here which is no mean feat in itself. After one listen, I think it’s not bad/ ok. I have the feeling it’ll be a grower. Let's see the Daily Mail hijack this one then.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Kid Rock - Born Free

Many years ago -1998 to be exact- Kid Rock (Bob to his mates) released an album called Devil Without A Cause which wasn't completely terrible. Sadly for him -and us- this isn't 1998.

Only in North America -and only certain parts of North America at that- is it possible for Kid Rock to make any kind of sense whatsoever. Where he was once and mixer of styles and genres, nowadays he seems happy enough to redneckily (have I just invented a new word there?) croon his way through monster ballad after monster ballad.
If there's anything positive to say about this album, it's that there are a few decent (radio friendly) tunes that'll no doubt have the dimmer people you know humming incessantly. Great. hey, at least it's better than them singing along.
Kid Rock's lyrics are, at best, the inane ramblings of a terminal sentimentalist. At worst, they're junior school poetry class.
This album is about freedom - the kind of stuff Americans who are heavily armed, heavily intoxicated, or both, love - here in europe though, it really doesn't sway.

Complete and utter shite - Avoid at all costs.

Kid Rock, shortly after reading my review

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Even more shorter-than-normal thoughts

Hi all. I've been nearly dead for a while (Ebola again) and consequently haven't had the time to do anything of substance. Normal service will be resumed on my next post.

There are now just 3,200 tigers left in the wild. Three of the nine subspecies (the Bali, Javan and Caspian tigers) are extinct; a fourth, the South China, is also lost to the wild, with a few dozen specimens surviving in captivity. Tigers' survival is not guaranteed even in the most protected places: four died in a north Indian reserve named after Corbett earlier this year. The national animal of India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Malaysia and North and South Korea; the majestic creature at the heart of eastern and western culture from traditional Chinese myths to evil Shere Khan in the Jungle Book and cuddly Tigger in Winnie the Pooh; the big cat that sells us beer, petrol and other human essentials such as sugar-frosted breakfast cereal, is teetering on the very brink of extinction.
On November 21, various heads of state and assorted other diplomats are going to convene in St Petersburg at the snappily titled Tiger Summit, which has been widely billed as the last chance to save the big cat from extinction. Some conservationists feel the participants are remote bureaucrats with no experience of the on-the-ground realities. Others are refusing to go at all. Tiger experts are agreed on the prime, simple cause of its disappearance: it is being massacred for a lucrative illegal trade in traditional Chinese medicine. So, as we know why it's disappearing, surely the answer to this problem is a simple one? I'm going to answer my own question here. The answer is money, as it is to everything like this. In this case, money for more game wardens to patrol areas where the poachers operate.
Simple, I've saved the tiger. All we have to do now is wait and see if anyone else wants to do it.

"They're grrrrrrreat"

BBC weatherman Tomasz Schafernaker (nice name) has caused a major furore in the home counties by having the downright brass neck to present the weather whilst -and you might want to sit down before reading this- wearing a jumper and jeans. I know, it's unbelievable, the end of days.

Public Enemy No1

And in a move which headline writers everywhere would love, cash strapped Manchester City are after Porto's man mountain striker Hulk. Hulk's not so keen though, maybe he's been to Manchester before, eh?
He's probably pressing a car full of attractive but badly acting teenagers effortlessly above his head right now.

"Raaaaaaargh! Hulk no go City"

Friday, 5 November 2010

More short thoughts

First off, apologies for another mishmash-not-really-about-anything- type post, but my plans were changed by my daughter. I was going to do a lengthy and incredibly interesting (stop laughing) run down of my top 10 albums of the year, but she has insisted I wait until later on in the month which is when MCR release their new cut. Which is going to be brilliant, apparently. Hmmm.

A woman has been reunited with her diamond ring - two years after flushing it down the loo and hiring a waste firm to sift through sewage to find it.
After accidentally losing the ring, Joan Speirs paid the company to put a camera into the cesspit tank.
When that didn't work, the company filtered the 12,000 gallons of waste and even sent a worker into the tank with a metal detector, but to no avail.
But by an amazing co-incidence, an employee from the same small family firm stumbled across the ring more than two years later at a sewage works.
"Two of the smaller diamonds had fallen out but apart from that, it was just in need of a good clean".

I bet it was.
"Found it!"

Keeping up with the highbrow nature of todays post, we now move onto rugby league, more specifically, Joel Monaghan.
For those of you who don't know who I'm talking about, Mr. Monaghan is a centre/winger forthe Canberra Raiders and sometimes New South Wales and, in times of need, Australia. So, not a bad player then? Well no, and despite his physical handicaps -he's ginger- he's done pretty well for himself.
Up until yesterday, that is.
Yesterday, young Joel was all over Twitter. Well, not him exactly, a picture of him. A picture of Joel being ....erm......"pleasured". By a dog.
Yes, by a dog.
Joel has since come out and said exactly what you'd expect him to say - "I was drunk......I wasn't thinking.......I'm sorry...." Blah blah blah. He's also said the act was simulated. It wasn't -I've seen the pic (and thanks for sending me that-no christmas card for you this year)I wish I hadn't seen it though, anyone got any mind bleach?
There's no truth in the rumour that he's been charged with terrierism. Or that he's interested in joining the Bulldogs.

In other sport related news, Liverpool FC Brad Pitt a-like Dirk Kuyt's night ended in ...carnage when a police horse accidentally sat on his car while herding Napoli fans away from Anfield. Haha, that's a shame. And David Beckham has denied reports that he is interested in taking American citizenship. In the Daily Mail's report of the story, however, they spend the first eight paragraphs talking about the possibility of him becoming American and how terrible it would be without mentioning, at least until paragraph nine, that he said yesterday: "I have no intention of becoming a US citizen. I'm English and proud to be – that will never change."
 Not American.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Thought for the day

Every follower I lose makes Justin Bieber stronger.

You don't want to be responsible for that, do you?

Monday, 1 November 2010

Short thoughts

A week after an 18 foot high Tsunami struck the north of the country -wiping out many villages- a volcano has erupted in Indonesia, adding to their malaise. What do these guys have to do to get a break?
No doubt someone will point out that God moves in mysterious ways. Too mysterious for me, that's for sure.

Indonesia, yesterday

A transsexual called Mikki Nicholson has won the British Scrabble Championship.
Here's Mikki with her trophy.

Nice hair

Worst Tranny ever. Sort out your stubble mate, you wouldn't convince a paralytic sailor.

Alcohol is more dangerous than heroin, ecstasy and crack.

Researchers have rated alcohol the most dangerous substance based on the overall dangers to the individual and society as a whole. 
The work was led by Professor David Nutt, (appropriately enough) the former government drugs adviser who was sacked for criticising the then Labour government's decision to upgrade cannabis from class C to class B.
His team analysed how addictive a drug is and how it harms the human body as well as other factors like environmental and socio-economic costs, such as health care, social services, and prison.
They found heroin, crack cocaine and methamphetamine, or crystal meth, to be the most lethal to individuals.
When considering their wider social effects, alcohol, heroin and crack cocaine were the most dangerous.
But overall, alcohol outranked all other substances, followed by heroin and crack cocaine. Marijuana, ecstasy and LSD scored far lower.
Marking substances from zero to 100 based on their criteria, alcohol scored 72 overall, compared to 55 for heroin and 54 for crack.
Other drugs examined included: crystal meth (33), cocaine (27), tobacco (26), amphetamine/speed (23), cannabis (20), GHB (18), ketamine (15), methadone (13), ecstasy (9), anabolic steroids (9), LSD (7), buprenorphine (6) and magic mushrooms (5). 

So don't have a glass of chablis or rioja with your dinner tonight, have some crack instead. Or maybe drop a tab of acid. It's ok, Professor Nutt said so.

Nicotine, Valium, Vicodin, Marijuana, Ecstasy and Alcohol
And finally a former Marxist rebel who was jailed and tortured during Brazil's military dictatorship last night became the first female president in her country's history. Well done Dilma Rousseff, I bet Obama is overjoyed at that result.
Dilma yesterday, shortly before winning the Brazilian pull a funny face championship