Saturday, December 30, 2006

Playwrights Propogating Harmonious Settlements,

The mighty EastFife FC were on Football Focus on BBC1 today. Their hospitality matchday package was featured. Aren't East Fife FC great?

East Fife FC and Kingdom FM will be at the centre of my plan to improve society locally, it's all about encouraging local pride and self-respect. The church could have done that but they had some crazy ideas. The lad Icke with his lizard theories is more attuned to societies needs than the lot who invented Christmas.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Painters of Performing Painters,

At last, there was a lovely distraction from the nuisance of Christmas. My Latest Novel, the band I’ve loved most in 2006, played a show at King Tuts in Glasgow.

At King Tuts, it’s important to arrive early enough and mark out a prime territory, this might depend on what your aims are from the gig, be it bagging the poster on the way out, acquiring a setlist from the band or the gadgie on the mixing desk or seeing the stage. I hoped to achieve all of these but I had to settle for the pick of the views of the stage.

The support act were Odeon Beat Club from Glasgow, they consist of a guitarist, a bassist, a drummer, a vocalist/guitarist and a lady who hops on and off the stage to sing on certain songs. They seemed to have a number of followers in the local crowd. As regular readers of my musical reviews will know, I’m not easily won over by the bog-standard 4-piece tactics. I so nearly thought that they were okay, they had that Scottish guitar noise thing, I can’t explain it, it’s a quality that only Scottish bands can do. I managed to align my brain with the music but the singer was poor. He sung in an American accent, he could have been from Blink 182 or some other band of their ilk. I couldn’t work out what he was singing. He ruined all the songs apart from two of them, those were the two songs he downed his usual guitar and used an acoustic guitar instead. He told us that My Latest Novel’s second ever gig was supporting Odeon Beat Club in Greenock and that is was obvious then that the billing would change. I am glad that fairness has prevailed. Odeon Beat Club weren’t all that great but they weren’t as rotten as the Dykeenies.

My Latest Novel didn’t disappoint me. After the first twang of the guitar, the crowd realised they were opening with the album starter Ghost in the Gutter and they did that shusssshhhh-y thing. I thought that was great and I was filled with hope that the crowd would stay like this and observe the magnificent subtlety of the songs. It wasn’t to be; after the first crescendo of that song, the crowd started whooping, this was when we first realised the two next to us were nincompoops – they did not cheer or woo, they made loud animalistic grunts. However, at the end of the song, one of them said “Epic, man”. I thought they were going to play the album in order and they nearly did. Pretty in a Panic, with the spoken word poem at the end, will always be my favourite, although I listen to the album more than twice every day, I’m still trying to work out what the all words of it are: “Now the seashell artist makes another masterpiece, reflecting jealous danger which love can’t see, a trinket box which holds the key, to the seashell artist, we thank thee.”

I still wonder at the concentration they pour into getting every melodica note, stroke of violin, glarkenspiel chime, guitar twang, tap of the keyboard and drumbeat in its rightful place. The vocals sometimes matter, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they’re spoken, sometimes they’re a bit choral and sometimes they’re chanted, quite angrily like in Learning Lego. I couldn’t work out whether to take the two nincompoops seriously in their appreciation of My Latest Novel, one said “You’ll never have been at a gig like this” which might look complimentary in print, later, one of them ordered the other to dance.

They ended the first part of the gig with their Christmas song, it’s not Stop the Cavalry. Outside it’s Christmas is more about a time and an emotion felt after some sort of winter incident. It’s beautiful and it snows in the minds of those hear it.

After their short break they came back with Valour Still, not from the album but it wouldn’t be out of place on it, and Reputation of Ross Francis which is magnificent. Apparently Ross Francis became engaged on Christmas day.

My Latest Novel are great, I think there’s no one like them. Their musicianship can be best be summed up by the fact that during one song, Chris plays glockenspeughle, melodica, and guitar, he hits the symbols and sings a bit (I might have remembered that a bit wrongly but it is mostly right). Most of the blogs say that they’re like Belle & Sebastian or Arcade Fire, they’re wrong – the closest comparison I’d nominate would be Sufjan Stevens but that’s not right either. They are who they are and they do lovely gigs like this one.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Inventers of Needless Discord,

Conspiracy theories needn’t form where fairness prevails.

Was the education system so different 10 years before I was schooled? I witnessed stewards and policemen of ages not much greater than my own victimise spectators of a football match, Celtic versus Dundee United on Boxing Day. I don’t understand where they, as a collective, could acquire the indecent beliefs and opinions that are ingrained in their psyche.

Supporters were ruthlessly and randomly plucked from the crowd and arrested. I know there have been gestures made in political circles with regards to sectarianism but what these spectators were guilty of could not be classed as bigotry or racism. Police and stewards raided the crowd near us nearly every 5 minutes and hauled out more victims. The raids were so random, I could have been arrested and I just watch the match in peace.

An air of hostility and fear was created within Areas 110-112. What frightens me most is that these were not the acts of individual renegade stewards, of which there are a few, but of a collective. What or who is the source of this collective but ultimately wrong attitude? Why was there no one wearing a fluorescent jacket who actually questioned the actions of their colleagues, was there no one with human qualities?

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Tottery Pastors Soliciting Convivialities,

It’s been utterly horrible. I’ve hated Christmas more than ever this year. I’m tired of attending family get-togethers in its honour just to keep people from complaining. No one benefited from my attendance. I might even have been able to make myself something nicer to eat.

I’d rather people didn’t buy gifts for me. I’d much rather have my parents go out for some nice dinners or afford a better holiday than furnished me with stuff.

Christmas Day was spent with the fickle bunch and Boxing Day, with the jostling lot.

Slipper sales surely peak at Christmas.

I feel depressed.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Agitated Unveilers of the Replicants,

I've been sick of England moaning about its fog all week, it's not news - it's weather. Today, we got our own fog, we didn't complain.The Celtic versus Falkirk match was interesting, there were some arrests in the crowd nearby. I don't know what for. It's weird how different mindsets kick in during some events. None of them were mine, I watched the match. How many of these people are devoted to the cause superficially?

Friday, December 22, 2006

Perambulaters of Barren Diaries,

It's been weird, today has been the first day since September that I've not actually considered any chemistry.
My face attacked me today.
I went for a walk today, it's been ages since I did some good bogtrotting; without Simon, there's not a huge necessity to do so. Whilst driving to work on the calm and crisp winter mornings of late, I realised that I'd rather be outside enjoying them instead of being in a car with artificial heat, in a freezing lab or office.
I wandered along the beach; mostly, I weighed up the year in my mind. There's a strange aura that's created when visibility isn't especially good; walking along the edge of the Kingdom feels like walking along the edge of the world. Who cares if the Earth isn't flat? It still astounds me to think that there's nothing in that direction until continental Europe. Man Overboard!
I feel in the mood for a good quiz. Perhaps I can be a quiz champion once again.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Megalomaniacs Avenging Penguins,

I been tried to finish work before the fall of darkness in the earlier part of the week, the road to work is always foreign in the dark. I achieved earlier finishes but they weren’t early enough to avoid the use of headlights. The skies were stunning on the way home, deep oranges and reds fade through sky blues to the dark of space above dotted with stars. However, attention still had to be paid to the icy roads. I decided to finally give up work for the year when the peace and quiet in the building became loneliness. Loneliness isn’t so bad, but ratio of the bloke who lives in the cupboard at the end of the office to people who work in the office was 1:1 and that was undesirable, especially since he doesn’t say anything (however he isn’t averse to kicking or banging the filing cabinet on the way past my desk, he only does this to my filing cabinet).

On the theme of end of year lists, I’ve been putting together two lists, a list of most evil people of all-time and a list of the year’s good lyrics. I’m not sure whether “evil” exists, perhaps “evil” is really the extreme of “selfish”. The lyrics one is pointless because if Gonzo Borrell sang “where in the world would I run?”, which I like as a lyric despite it’s lack of complexity, the effect is obviously much diminished in comparison to when it was gifted by James Yorkston in the song 5am, on the wonderful Year of the Leopard album.

I hate Christmas. It’s a time of one-off gestures; these gestures don’t repair the fissures in our society. People get duped as they strive to conform. It’s a time of great waste. If it’s the “season of good will”, what are you bandits up to for the rest of the year?

I miss the isobar chart.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Aged Miscreants Disrespectful of Choice,

Many people have decided to review this year’s music, one such party are MTV2. Today I observed snatches of their end of year review of music, there was Zane Lowe, the lad who tries to sing in Yellow Snow Patrol, a Klaxon, Plan B and the NME editor. They’re all taste makers albeit wholly irresponsible ones. The musicians appeared indifferent and diplomatic, the NME guy seemed a bit tired (he’d obviously spent all his year exaggerating the quality of the bands discussed) and Zane was trying to appear intelligent as he eulogised and philosophised. I wondered what the point of it all was. On an aural and visual medium such as television, couldn’t the quality of the music videos in question stand alone?

I pondered the role of the nation’s taste makers. Do they have to speak? I like BBC radio DJs such as Mark Radcliffe, Mark Lamarr and Marc Riley; mostly, they just play the records and tell us enough information in order to enable us to buy it. There’s KEXP Seattle, where the listener gets even less talk, they hear the record and then a title, an artist and maybe a website. In these shows, the listener is usually allowed to judge whether they like something without a sycophantic DJ trying desperately to persuade them that that something was good. Picking the right records and playing them seem to be the only required actions of a broadcasting taste maker.

Wolves by My Latest Novel was the album released in the year 2006 that I liked most but none of the above broadcasters really heralded its quality. I thought about how I had come to buy it. The band obviously had some airplay, but it was scarce and sporadic. I remember hearing Reputation of Ross Francis a few times but by then I’d already decided to buy or had bought the album. It was not radio or MySpace that made me do so, it was probably a whim backed up by the opinion of a messageboard poster.

I considered my role as a taste maker (brother is still intent on seeing Razorlight). I’m the editor of a webspace that has a title chosen by me and I can sometimes make comments on a messageboard. If I can be swayed by the opinions of people of whose backgrounds I don’t know a thing about, I wonder how many people I’ve misled. I know there haven’t been many misled, because there haven’t been many. The difference between radio broadcasters and I is that I have to use words to try to describe the records that I’ve been listening to because they are the only resource available to me aside from links and pictures. They can play a record and let the listener decide. They should not play the record and then justify giving airtime to a record.

In conclusion, anyone who expresses an opinion is a taste maker. People with the biggest outreach can unfortunately be the most effective taste makers. Since anyone can be a taste maker, it's important to know which taste makers to trust. Taste makers might not know that they are taste makers so they have to be sensible with their opinions. People don’t need taste makers, they only really need the sound and their own judgement, but they will want a taste maker to offer them reassurance. Finally, I like My Latest Novel very much.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Elfin Electrifiers Embezzling Time,

I’ve learned that my self-diagnoses aren’t credible to most people. On this occasion, I know the problem and it’s something of a Catch-22 situation.

I’ve been trying to write a report, which is due in February, and I spend nearly all my hours that I don’t spend in the laboratory trying to write the thing. This stresses me. The more I don’t write the more I become stressed. I became ill.

I spent a day in bed, emerging only to play with CDs and make a Classic Cuts CD (a mix CD, volume 23). Making the CD made me forget about stuff for a while. I assembled 47 great songs – enough for two volumes. I know from experience that I should still only make one volume from the assembly, otherwise, I might end up with poor segues or a stinker could sneak onto the final selection (volume 4 still spooks me). I make sure each junction between songs is smooth, that the volume starts and ends with a corker and that every possible second of the compilation is used. Most Classic Cuts volumes serve as excellent reminders of what I was listening to in any epoch of time.

On Wednesday I invited brother to a gig. He declined. On Thursday, he felt he’d outdone me by booking tickets to see Gonzo and the Razorlight boys. Razorlight are the most regrettably wasted opportunity in today’s music industry; the music is great but that clown, Gonzo Borrell, insists on whimpering like an elk all over the top of it. I don’t want him to fall down a crevasse of a glacier, but I’d like to see him fired by the band; they could do instrumentals. I don't know how I can remedy brother's ways.

I watched a documentary about the rise of right-wing nationalism in contemporary Japan.

I discovered that The Tears - Suede by any other name and still as annoying - have a song called "Apollo 13". It’s not the same.

I attended a lecture by one of the guest lecturers called “Did Life on Earth Begin on Earth!” I thought it was rather interesting and just like being back at Embra because they talk about diverse chemistry there. It was all about solving the problem of where the phosphorus required for life came from. The lecture was slightly ruined for me when St Andrews phosphorus guy prolonged the event with his questions, phosphorus guy didn’t endear himself to me; he makes phosphorous-containing compounds and puts them in jars, then he publishes papers claiming that he made those things in the jars, despite the fact he has no interest in whether the things in the jars have any useful applications in the world outside those jars.

I’m plodding on; I can’t see why anyone would want to take holidays at this time of year. I’m knackered but I’ll be forced to take holidays because of Christmas and New Year anyway, those will suffice and I’ll take some decent holidays in the 2007. I think I’d like to disappear up north for a week or so when the weather is more amenable; it’s just an idea at the minute.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Rottweilers Starved of Putrid Butchers,

I just wanted to have a Saturday where I could lie about and do nothing. My variant of the “duvet day” involves leaving my bed but taking my duvet to the couch in the livingroom to watch TV or sleep there. However, I was thwarted by a beeping electricity meter, apparently, it beeps continuously once the house has less than 80p of credit left. “Duvet day” was postponed at 0830hrs.

I’ve been a bit irritable today. I hate when I try to force my environmentally-friendly ways upon people and they retort with something that’s the equivalent of “I’ve paid my taxes so I can choose to kill the planet.” I hate Christmas. No good can come of it.

I believe The Canadian called last evening. Unfortunately, the call was received by the wrong person. I feel violated by the intrusion. It was only a phone call that I did not take but half-overheard, I believed The Canadian to be broadly ignorant throughout its duration.

I had a discussion a while ago with a colleague, the topic was the most awful person who we had met and who had ever existed.

The neighbours upstairs played their music loudly until 3am last night. Somehow, I managed to filter it out, mostly with Violence and Birdsong by Union of Knives, I’m not sure I would have slept anyway. My mind is too concerned with failure.

I hope to make some proper progress this week. Single-mindedness might be required, I’ll have to blot out all the negative aspects of the place and pursue the goal. I thought it would be a great opportunity to change and improve myself but continually I resort to the tried, tested and flawed character to deal with the trials of the post.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Amazed Dodderers Disgusted by Such Effrontery,

I’ve had a decent day. I managed to do all of next week’s work in 10 minutes simply by looking in the fridge. I needed some horrible compound but I couldn’t find a supplier so I planned to make it by myself. I bought in the raw materials to do so, dealt with the horrible man in stores and when I was putting them in the fridge (as they were temperature-sensitive), I found some of the horrible compound which I needed. I was slightly looking forward to doing messy chemistry but that’s the way things are going: random and unexpected knocks and blows from all sides.

I arrived home to find the CD from Kategoes. It’s a home-made CD-R, in a wallet with a home-made cover which is decorated from edge-to-edge with doodles and collage-type images. I know it’s a photocopy but it still oozes personal charm. Inside the home-made envelope with the disc was a small hand-written note. I know it doesn’t say anything overly special but again Kategoes have taken the time to write my name and say “see you in Edinburgh in the future”. Perhaps I’m just sick of snooty people in St. Andrews who don’t hold doors open for me or say “please” or “thank you”, but I’m impressed with the courtesy shown by Kategoes.

I wish I could do more for them; they deserve to be big (although I wouldn’t want them to be, because I am an indie kid), they deserve a session on somebody’s radio show, they deserve people going to see them and they deserve people paying £3 for their 3 track CD-R even if mucking about with scissors, sello-tape and computers will waste some of their time.
A plane landed on a golf course, I hate golf. Golf courses are a blight on our landscapes.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Knights of the Gutter,

I have nothing major to report. That can’t be good.

My work was set back last Friday when I pieces of my apparatus were taken from me for use in higher priority work. The break gave me time to see that the work I was doing wasn’t the most appropriate and I’m waiting on delivery of chemicals in order to change path – this will mean another run-in with the man in charge of stores who has a vendetta against me.

On Wednesday, I had to attend an Induction (Part II) session. It made me regret being born. I walked out; I couldn’t concentrate afterwards, when I returned to the lab, because it filled me with anger. Some of the figures from near the top of the university management hierarchy and a lady from a consulting agency were speaking. Their general message was “We’re smart; you can be like us in 3 years.” I couldn’t stop thinking that I, a Methil man, would be worth no more than the dust on the street to them. One man spoke with a degree of elocution that was several notches more elitist than those in the Royal Family. The lady from the consulting agency took the biscuit with the quote: “I don’t like talking to undergraduates very much; they have smaller brains than us.” I was an undergraduate only a few months ago and I haven’t changed much since.

I seem much duller than usual; there isn’t even a decent album out apart from the one by Lee Hazlewood with Baghdad Knights on it for me to comment on.

I think DJ Radcliffe is being silly, he’s just commended Razorlight and Gonzo Borell.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Musicologists With no Chance of Seeing a Vinegarroon,

The Bellyaches oft has been referred to as “a poor man’s Yer Mam” or “not the guy with the hearse” and today’s article will change nothing. I haven’t related the recorded music that I’ve been buying to The Bellyaches massive for a while.

Simple Kid 2 is the follow-up to the marvellous Simple Kid 1. The album was recorded mostly on 8-track C-60 cassettes at Simp’s house before being various bits were added to it and tidying in the studio. The album generally ambles along and it’s quite nice but the songs lack the simplicity and the clarity of the greats on Simple Kid 1. lil’ King Kong sounds like Beck or Beta Band with all its loops and sound effects. Everything else is very lo-fi and gentle. I don’t think many of the songs could stand on their own as singles as many of Simple Kid 1 could, there’s nothing that really betters any of Simple Kid 1. Love’s An Enigma (pt II) is a bit of an enigma and quite disappointing in comparison to its forerunner.

Costing 1800 Nectar points and 3 weeks of wasted complaining to the online bandits that are CD Wow, The Art of Fiction by Jeremy Warmsley features the artist himself clutching a canary on the front cover. It’s a very bad album cover. I’ve put Jezza down as someone who is ploughing the Clap Your Hands Say Yeah furrow (Dirty Blue Jeans is a prime example) but that doesn’t mean that he stays rigidly within its depths because he also does much slower piano-tinkling ballad-type songs. Some songs, like I Believe in the Way You Move are a mixture of the two styles. This album features excellent arrangements; it’s littered throughout with tinkles of percussion as if second of this album has been optimised to its fullest capacity. My favourite track is Modern Children, the variation in intensity of the dance-type drumming backbeat moulded around the piano stuff, underneath a glorious string section is just superb.

Brakes’ first album, Give Blood, didn’t remain true to one style and that disappointed some people who purchased it after the dance-style single, All Night Disco Party, or the short rock’n’roll number, Ring a Ding Ding, weren’t interested in the country style numbers. Their latest album, Beatific Visions, is slightly refined but still manically varied. The album lasts 28 minutes. The first two tracks are punchy rock’n’roll, the next two have country leanings. Spring Chicken is next, it’s like Chicken Payback done by Americans. Isabel is a quiet, delicate homage strummed out on the acoustic guitar, it only lasts 206 seconds before we’re back to more pop music. Following the title track is the nonsensical debate over which is the spikiest: Porcupine or Pineapple. The album finishes with more songs that are all different. It’s another fine album with a rotten cover – a bunch of blokes standing back from a poker table.

I bought Adem’s album, Love and Other Planets, from Evilbay. I realise Adem will see no benefits from my actions except from the publicity that he will receive in the next few lines. I live in the Kingdom of Fife and creosote will always be my favourite fence covering of choice, so for all its merits, when I listen to this album, I know I’d be better spending my time listening to King Creostote, although I do acknowledge that Launch Yourself is great and is not by King Creosote.
I finally decided that the Young Knives are really brilliant, it was that “If all else fails, I am the Prince of Wales. I’m your monarch...” lyric that finally did it, Voices of Animals and Men is a good’un. Kerfuffle by Ladyfuzz is quite loveable too.

After hearing the single, Oh to Say on 6music’s MINT programme, I bought Let’s Kill the Summer by The Singleman Affair. The single was a perfect antidote to all the noisy things that had gone before it, and at that time of night, in the dark, it sounded quite soothing. The Singleman Affair is mostly just the work of Daniel Schneider, the album has a sort of gloomy feel that reminds me of some of Grandaddy’s more morbid numbers. It’s full of reverb and echo and it’s quite eerie.

The album, Violence and Birdsong, by Union of Knives is very Scottish. The comments on the label reference Aphex Twin, Radiohead and Massive Attack, I’ll lob in Mogwai and Boards of Canada. It’s good ethereal electronica. The vocals are incidental but definitely necessary. With all the technology available today, it’s difficult to know what instruments have been recorded. For example, Midlake didn’t have a violinist with them at that gig I attended but they recreated the violin part on Young Bride perfectly by pressing some buttons and twiddling some dials – I did feel a bit cheated. Anyway, Violence and Birdsong that can be listened to or left on in the background, it’s versatile like that.

I’ve heard the band on various Scottish alternative music radio programmes and I’ve also heard Ian Rankin recommend them on several radio programmes too so when I thought I needed to buy some new CDs I bought Happy Healthy Lucky Month by Saint Jude’s Infirmary. I’m glad I did. It’s another varied album and it owes its flavours mainly to the sharing of vocals between 4 band members. It’s littered with invention; the first song, The Church of John Coltrane, has beautiful vocal harmonies, melodica, a speech from a play being read out and a train being sampled. Remember Dresden starts of in a 80s indie pop-stylee but then fades into a quiet, piano-led song with isolated vocals like those of Sarah Nixey of Black Box Recorder. Good-bye Jack Vettraino gives prominence to one of the male vocalists, it’s quite dark with sparse drumming and a solid yet hushed bassline. Shrouded in feedback, All My Rowdy Friends are Dead could be by The Fall, but it’s better than that. There’s also a guy on the inside front cover who used to get on the same train as me, but that doesn’t make the album; it’s the music that counts.

Mates of State (or Makers of Steak Bakes as I like to call them despite the fact Gregg’s make cheap rubbish and Mates of State don’t) seem to be getting a bit of airplay for this record, Bring it Back, just recently which is odd because it was released in 2005. They’re like a two-man Polyphonic Spree but one of them is a woman. They sing “You will surely buy this, pleasing to your ears” in Fraud in the ‘80s and I can’t argue with them.

I must acknowledge my purchase of the double A side Nazi Girls/Painting New York on my Shoes by Poppy and the Jezebels. I don't usually buy vinyl but I bought this, I ripped the songs from the accompanying mini-disc before I packaged it all away in the cupboard. Someone will dig it out in 30 years from now when it's worth a fortune.
I've been working on appreciating Ys by Joanna Newsom, I know it’s all great but I haven’t found the time to give it undivided attention. I’ve tried listening to it on the way to work in the car but usually I lose track of what’s happening in her tales as I swerve to avoid some lorry that’s not keeping to its own side of the road. She does sound like Noddy Holder when she sings “meteoroite”. The songwriting seems pretty fine but the vocals won’t be liked by everyone, just special people like me.
I'll also be looking out for a band called The Twilight Sad who I heard whilst listening to KEXP online. I've yet to hear them through my own radio yet. I don't want to call the BBC corrupt but it might just come to that.
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