Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Heedless Horrors Wasting Waste,

It's not that I don't care for you, it's just that I'm unkind.

I made another huge blunder today. It was a special type of blunder, a type that probably only exists in my brain. It's the second and a half occurrence of its type in 6 months.

Focus can become self-absorption just as easily as dismissiveness and negligence can appear as disinterest.

The task of renegade should only be accepted wittingly.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Lobbyists Overcome by Lassitude,

I was not aware that "the government" (they're not in control) ran an official online petitioning service, this was obviously in the news recently with respect to the potential new road tax policy.

Petitions are rubbish and the only decent thing about the online service is that it it saves the wastage of paper. People who are unhappy organise petitions but nobody ever starts a petition to say that everything is okay, or to agree with a good idea.

In any case, petitions are lazy. Complaints should arrive through the post, a person who feels passionate about a cause will go to the length of writing a letter. A letter carries more weight than a reactionary and ill-considered email and infinitely more weight than an effortless signature by pen or keyboard.

It's still quite interesting to see what the public are complaining about but I'd have to say they're a bit misguided. A petition about retaining funding for the Red Arrows has received a lot of support. I love military aircraft as much as the next person and RAF Leuchars Air Show can be a good day out but this kind of thing causes too much noise, traffic and the needless combustion of hydrocarbons by cars and aircraft. The government are supposed to reply to petitions that receive over 100 signatures, this means that they will have to process the petition that urges Tony Blair to stand on his head and juggle ice cream - they'll say that's democracy in action.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Intransigent Visionaries Locked in a Nightmare,

The theme of the week in my head at least has been that of propaganda and the major global conspiracies. This was never my intention, I think that my political stances are mostly local and at the moment, they revolve around what would make my life better. I have managed to get toothpaste on my clothes again today. When I refer to a global conspiracy, it’s probably taken for granted that I was thinking about George Bush, his oil pursuits, his 9/11 hoax and his foray into Eeeeraq. If it wasn’t to be George, it’d be someone else, and if it wasn’t USA, it’d be Richard Branson or Tesco. Some colleagues of mine had watched that 9/11 Conspiracies documentary on the BBC and the Loose Change filum, and coincidentally, that David Icke documentary also kicked up as a repeat last evening. Icke-o might make some mad statements, perhaps those are just to catch the attention of the public so that he can broadcast his real concerns. He’s concerned about the so-called “global government” and “Orwellian state”, the problem is that in society there are three main groups: there are the beneficiaries of our current plight – a tiny minority to whom all the wealth goes and they’ve implemented conditions to ensure that continues and then there are the radical people like Michael Moore, David Icke and I’d extend this class through the political journalists and satirists in the meedja, right down to the few people in the general public who know that things are not right and they want change, they spout stuff that probably annoys the most powerful but most regulated and victimised section of society who are indeed the lazy, indifferent masses that allow themselves to governed by the likes of George Bush, his oil cronies, Tony Blair and eventually David Cameron. Mobilising the masses is difficult because the task is left to people who make impassioned yet cumbersome statements (like this one), who will plead for change but also make it seem unachievable and who will come across as nutters. Eventually, even I will have to do something; I think I might start by complaining about waste disposal.

Saturday morning was slow; as always, if I don’t get out of bed around 7am, I’ll take until lunchtime to become ready to take on the world. Come lunchtime, I had decided to go bogtrotting on the Fife Coastal Path. I decided to amble along a section that I had not covered before, from Aberdour to Dalgety Bay. What I actually achieved was Aberdour to Aberdour, I walked from the award-winning Silver Sands beach to the Black Sands beach, there and back is around about 1 and a half miles, which is admittedly pathetic, but I didn’t have the time or the inclination to go inland, as is required if wishing to stay upon the official path after the Black Sands; the alternative route involves swimming – I don’t want to be savaged by the killer whales (I’ll believe the killer whales report when I see one). I like the coast, it seemed quite a busy day on this stretch, parents and children were playing on Silver Sands, it’s only a small inlet with a bit of sand, yet it’s awarded blue flags regularly, I hate blue flags, national parks and all this false conservationism. Some consultancy agency has offices just along from this beach, the building sits just on the shore and looks out to see, it’s not much of a blight on the landscape but if I had to work, I think it’d be great to work there. Out on the firth it was a bit misty, Arthur’s Seat peeked uncannily through. Aeroplanes boomed by one after the other, this south west coast of Fife plays host to the circling jets awaiting clearance to land in Embra. Down on the Black Sands, a couple of men and women picked shellfish from the rockpools, whilst in the harbour, the sailing club members took advantage of the low tide to continue working on changing of the mooring chains with the use of a JCB, they had a nice fire going. On the way back to the car, I saw a big ship. I’ll complete this section of the Coastal Path on another day.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Primal Casualties of the Fizzbomb Purgatory,

Sometimes the marketing of bands and music works and even the ardent anti-capitalists can fall for a well-planned strategy.

The Little Ones are a lovely pop band. If I can compare strike an analogy with Suffolk’s Rendlesham Forest UFO incident of 1980 that would make the tale of how I came to buy the record Sing Song slightly less (or more) dull. The single Lovers Who Uncover came onto my radar when it was played on Radio Double One’s Mark Radcliffe programme. I paid little more attention to them, it was a fairly pleasant pop record but then more reported sightings of something quite unusual came in and men (eyeballs) were scrambled to MySpace where they saw songs that were better than the usual fare. They gawked at what they saw for a while, went home and forgot about it. A while later, The Little Ones came back, with a single, sessions on 6music’s Tom Robinson Show and Radio Double One’s Mark Radcliffe Show and the serious tactical leaders had to see what strange things were happening in the forest, what they saw was startling. The next morning they filed a report to Fopp and a cover-up in a carrier bag followed, before an expose in the car CD player seemed to bring the details of what happened to light. In all seriousness, Sing Song features 7 songs, each could be excellent pop singles. Oh, MJ! grabs me, it’s the radioactive emitter at the site. I thought this was excellent value at £6, it might be called a mini-album too, but again I’d argue that there’s no point in filling a record with duffers just to obey convention.

A different marketing plot led to me purchasing All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone by Explosions in the Sky. I love Bella Union, there are hardly any rotten acts on that record label. My Latest Novel, Midlake, Fionn Regan, Robert Gomez and to a lesser extent, The Dears are all great in my opinion. I’ve even taken to The Kissaway Trail, their latest signing, immediately. For a few weeks now, Bella Union have bombarded me with emithers and I succumbed; I had not heard of them, I didn’t even look them up on MySpace, but I was sure I could not make a mistake with a Bella Union artist, after all, they weren’t Howling Bells. I stuck the CD on whilst sat studeing. I could not work, I ended up marvelling at the beauty of this. I was caught up in the wistfulness, the thoughtfulness and the action. It is all instrumental. The trick is to imagine how the music fits around whatever the title suggests - it’s like drama lessons at primary school (pretend that you are an acorn) – The Birth and Death of the Day or Catastrophe and the Cure are prime examples of drama in the titles of the compositions. There’s definitely more than enough room on my shelf for this alongside Mogwai, 65daysofstatic and the recently reviewed Aereogramme because this is stunning. The artwork by Estaban Rey is also quite brilliant and entirely fitting.

The Bellyaches has never given mp3s away, mostly because the act of doing so is too technical but I’ll point the readership in the direction of the South by Southwest Festival website where there are various mp3s of some of the artists to listen to and download.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Torpid Captain and the Usurping Deck Hands,

It was a really special moon, a crescent was illuminated fully but the curvature of the sphere could be seen. I like when the moon can be sensed as three-dimensional.

It was a proper European night at Parkhead, previously in the group section of the UEFA Champions League, the atmosphere inside the stadium have been underwhelming. FC Copenhagen and Benfica were arguably lesser opposition, whilst I found the atmosphere during the match versus Manchester Utd. affected by the kind of vile, sectarian hatred that only the English or Rangers would bring.

The Meelan fans were quite something, they opted not to sit, they seemed to bunch at the front of their section of their stadium. Banners and flags are very rare in Scottish football these days, so it was fab (it’s the latest buzzword sweeping the swimming pool) to see. The Celtic core support buoyed by the fair-weather fans made a great noise too.

The game was a bit of a dull affair, Celtic’s central defenders played well, Meelan were never really troubled by Celtic’s attacks and overall Neil Lennon ruined it for everyone. If I was him and I found myself of no use to my team, I’d be brave and humble enough to admit it, I’d ask to be replaced on the pitch. The manager gave him enough of a chance to improve his play, but he didn’t. Finally, Neil was substituted, and when this happened, I was appalled; he flung his captain’s armband to the ground (the most energy he had expelled all evening) and trudged off like a spoilt child. It was good to get rid of him for at least 10 minutes, having said that, on came the useless Tommy Telegraph, who I grudge his appearance fee bonuses on top of his mammoth weekly wage.

They’ll go to the San Siro in Meelan for the return leg, they’ll try their best, but I don’t hold out much hope. It was nice to be part of the atmosphere on the night and good that Celtic weren’t defeated.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Long Ball Larry and the Shovelfeet,

I construct the occasional post about East Fife FC. Dave Baikie has to be sacked now, he’s bought too many duffers – they’re not duffers, they’re just not our type of player; we need Long Ball Larrys. This was evident on Saturday when they gave up trying to pass the ball properly and resorted to the classic East Fife way: the lumping of the ball. Despite being beaten 2-1 by Arbroath, it was quite enjoyable; the chants from the crowd were funny and the events on the pitch equally so; in what must be an SFL first, the East Fife physio was sent to the stand.

Tonight, Celtic play AC Milan in the Round of 16 of the UEFA Champion’s League. They could do worse than adopt that classic East Fife strategy, they ought to put a couple of big lads up front and boot the ball vaguely towards them. My tactics would rule out a place for hapless Kenny Miller; it was quite funny seeing him sat on the bench on Saturday with his wee glum face and the big cartoon bump on his forehead after his collision with the linesman whilst warming up.

I’ve always like Meelan as my European side, I adopted them when I was gloryhunting in the 90s and followed their exploits from afar since then. It’s going to be great to see them in Scotland again. I’m not really fussy about the score, I can’t afford not to enjoy the match at that ticket price.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Useless Prophets who Outline Obvious Outcomes,

It's happened. It has riled me, or at least, stirred some horrible memories.
The Canadian has been granted a visa. No one knows what will happen next; heated exchanges, I would imagine.
This bad news follows on from an earlier phone call during which he said that he would specifically ask to join an English regiment of the army. He said that he couldn't understand the Scottish accent. After his spiel about following in our (I struggle to say "our", it means that I have to identify with this bandit) great grandfather's footsteps, I see this intention as an act of racial discrimination, betrayal and hypocrisy.
Grudges and vendettas are perhaps my top interpersonal skills, but this is something completely different.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Narcissists who Would Darken any Memories,

For a while now, a few days at least, things seem to be falling right. Obviously, there’s a limit to how many things can go right, but things sometimes work out.

It’s Saturday, I went into work in the morning. I don’t mind this because in the earlier hours the roads are clear and the journey can be enjoyable, especially with today’s weather. I have a certain respect for people who are up and about early, during the week this is usually because they’re working hard, but at the weekend, they might just be enjoying the morning's atmosphere. They could even be working like me.

At the moment, I think I have to do as much as possible whilst I can and accept that there’ll be dips in productivity. I was exploiting this current peak. The office upstairs was peaceful (apart from the printers which seemed to burst into life randomly despite not actually printing anything), it was golden, until some other student turned up. What ensued was typical of the ethos of St Andrews-goers perfectly, they set up their computer with a webcam, and carried out what I assume was some sort of video conversation, it involved a lot of shouting. There was no regard paid to me or her colleague who had arrived just before transmission, I’m no longer surprised by these bandits. There I was in early in the morning working, there she was taking advantage of the yooni and clowning about. I didn’t let it bother me overly, because I’m on fire.

Downstairs, there was an abnormal gathering of people. I didn’t expect there to be many people around. Perhaps I was being paranoid but I sensed I was being frowned upon when I walked through them on my way to the lab or to the coffee machine. I worked out that it must have been some sort of conference. For what I didn’t know, I thought it was a meeting of some religious group (they gave off that image) and I thought about how best to sabotage their thing. I was going to wait until they plodded off to their sermon and then do something (something hard, like spoiling one of their posters). I went online and found out that they were only medieval enthusiasts, so I then I changed my plan to having some of their coffee and biscuits when they plodded off to their lecture, however they left some people behind to guard their refreshments. Once again, I was a rebel without a cause.

I finished what I had hoped to do on schedule and I rallied back home. There’s all sorts on these country roads at the weekends, last time, there was a tank, this time there was a renegade pensioner on an invalid buggy and there was also a cart full of twits being drawn by horses.

Nothing really great has happened; there was a few fruitful days at work, some nice football and a deluxe edition of The Bellyaches; I’m just in an unreasonably decent mood. This episode can be charted on The Bellyaches moodswing-ometer and analysed before they take me away.

Something quite awful is just around the corner.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Generals and Majors,

The Bellyaches is serving its purpose well; its aim is to ensure that I keep practising how to write properly.

Waiting on the postman can be more annoying than an annoying ringtone. The one that currently plagues Chez Aches is one that says, “Message!” at first crankily, yet relatively quietly, before being repeated with increased intensity until it begins screaming. I actually don’t mind the sentiments or the volume; it’s the fact that it sounds just like me that’s irksome.

The postman brought this week’s batch of music in two doses, most of it was not new music – it certainly wasn’t by the time it arrived. I took advantage of some gift vouchers afforded to me by Amazon - these are generally obtained by complaining about their service (a second dash; they’re going like hot cakes) – to buy the first two CDs: Porcella by The Deadly Snakes and Fossil Fuel: The XTC Singles Collection.

I have an announcement to make: this is where this edition was interrupted and recommenced a day later. I learned much in that day to enhance these reviews, ergo the rest of this edition becomes Bellyaches Deluxe.

The Deadly Snakes were a band from Toronto. I bought Porcella to see if the rest of it was as good as Gore Veil which is an amazingly brilliant song introduced to us by Mark Lamarr. However, the whole album can’t consist of Gore Veils and once I had accepted that I was able to appreciate it just a little more. Stepping away from the matter in hand for a moment, I don’t like the works of Nick Cave hugely, I can listen to him in small doses, I can appreciate the musicianship, the talent and the style but I don’t have a need for it; I think it’s probably of most use to its listeners when they are low (sad or angry), but when I’m in those moods, I really don’t want an angry man scaring me. There are similarities to some Nick Cave songs in some of the early tracks of this album, they’re a bit darker and grubby, and not particularly to my liking, this mood emanates mainly from the vocals because musically the pieces are quite enjoyable, there is an array of instruments that are played and arranged well. Gore Veil arrives as track V, if someone finds that Gore Veil fails to touch them, they probably should be earmarked as potential criminals. It’s all about existing and the frailty of humanity. The chorus lingers in the mind, however, that’s the only part of the song that’s a bit random (or maybe it isn’t), it goes:

Today, I saw an apple in my head,
And there was blood on my hands,
Everything was fire engine red and all the good pigeons/black guys sang.

Anyway, the rest of the album becomes a bit more upbeat afterwards, Work is a song about working, it sounds like a man analysing a workmate whilst working, it’s got some mechanical clunking, it has a stupid lyric, “the roof of your house is the bottom of the sky” which isn’t really overly clever but it sticks out for me for some unknown reason. The final song is called A Bird in the Hand is Worthless, it seems to be a final lament that is backed by a simple Shuttleworth-like keyboard beat, it’s not dissimilar to Sunscreen. In fact, I was going to write my own belated mock version for The Bellyaches that was tailored to me, I wouldn’t have said “a bird in the hand is worthless” but that was one of the sentiments I was going to include; there’s nothing like a kingfisher streaking up a river. In summary, there are many songs on Porcella of differing styles.

I don’t need to say much about XTC, they formed many years before my existence. I don’t get much of a chance to catch up with old music but XTC kept cropping up on the radio as one of the old things that I liked and eventually I had to do something; a compilation was the cheapest and laziest thing to do. Some of it is straightforward pop but there’s nothing wrong with that, I particularly like Generals and Majors (it was involved in the incident I reported to the Safest Parkers in Town), it reminds me of an undulating flock of finches. Everyone loves a good finch.

Lasting only a touch over 18 minutes, A Lesson in Crime by Tokyo Police Club will be called a mini-album, but I’d call it an album. If they can get the job done in 18 minutes; everyone will be happy. The sooner they get started, the sooner they get finished. Tokyo Police Club are from the same province as The Deadly Snakes, I first heard Nature of the Experiment on KEXP and that’s when I knew they were a cut above all the Artrocker-hyped poop (who are Bromheads Jerkin and the Pigeon Deterrents anyway?) that populates these shores. It’s punchy and it’s different, I never know where the notes are going to go, sometimes with this type of new band, they peddle predictable tunes and their songs are jigsaw-like; a note of that type will fit in there, just because a note of that type fitted in there on a song already written. The keyboards in Tokyo Police Club often give the songs a tinge of Postal Service. Lyrically, they are superb, the album opens with,

Do your neighbour a favour,
Collect their morning paper,
And clip out all the sad bits, no one wants to read that.
Let them take their kids to school and the zoo in peace

In summary, I like them very much.

Finally, under the microscope is My Heart Has a Wish That You Would No Go by Aereogramme. I’ll begin with apologising for my lack of familiarity with Aereogramme, I only went looking after this album due to rare run-in with the single Barriers on the radio. It mystifies me as to how this evaded the playlists of your actual Radio One, Double One and 6music, at a time when they’re swarming over Duke Special. Lyrically, it’s a bit middle-of-the-road and inconsequential to me, but Craig B has a decent voice. Its main appeal for me is in the backing music, it’s just really soothing: grandiose crescendos and majestic sweeping motions. I can find a place for this in my collection quite easily; it doesn’t tread into the territory of Mogwai, 65daysofstatic or Penguin Café Orchestra enough to cause grumbling.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Noisy Humans,

I got a feeling something’s cooking, science friction burns my fingers.

It’s amazing how everyone sees everything differently.

The road – if judged wrongly, it can host tragedy. I set off to work early but I encountered an accident, I had to turn around and choose another route.

Academic reports – what is rubbish to some, is inevitably decent to others.

Comments – some statements can be misinterpreted, sometimes deliberately.

People – it’s not always possible to see goodness in people; while it’s worthwhile trying, it’s a mistake to do so whilst ignoring the decency of others. The opportunity was there to take a minor stance.

Music – Billy Ocean Colour Scene are coming to the Kingdom of Fife, incredibly, some people will buy tickets.

Football – it’s all about opinions.

Sleep – I don’t feel tired but I do need to sleep.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Supposed Combatants of Imperialism Gone Free ,

I’ve got one, two, three, four, five senses working overtime, at least until 3pm, but they’ll get a second wind.

It rained quite a lot.

Uncle was followed by the same car for his entire journey from Embra to Methil. I wonder how this fits into the grand scheme of things.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Young Persons Belonging to Rebellious Counterculture Groups,

In the wake of Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton declaring their intentions to become President of the United States of America, so too am I. As an avid fan of The West Wing and regular listener to KEXP, my credentials are convincing enough. Having said that, I always thought that the only way to solve the Bush versus Gore fiasco was to place both of them in an Air Force One scenario and whoever managed to defeat Gary Oldman would become the president. I don’t think I’d have bothered taking the plane.

As “leader of the free world”, my first act will be quite similar to my predecessor; I will declare war – war upon Jimmy Carr.

Unusually, the first form of cultural comment for days associated with TV. I had put the television on merely for noise (sometimes I don’t like silence), whilst I was reading a book (the forthcoming object of a Bellyaches review). On E4, The 100 Greatest Tearjerkers was being broadcast and, inevitably, hosted by Jimmy Carr. The small section that I saw was in the upper 80s on the chart, it was a man having to put down his dog on Animal Hospital. It was really upsetting. Immediately after the clip, Jimmy Carr appeared and made some really pathetic and insensitive attempt at a joke. It was sickening. I blame Jimmy Carr for the nightmare that I had; it wasn’t about dogs, but I reckon that he screwed up some part of my brain. It was the worst nightmare that I’ve ever had, but I don’t think anyone else would find it so troubling if I was to recount it.

Elsewhere on television, this week’s episode of Never Mind the Buzzcocks was brilliant. Donny Tourette was a guest and he was shown for exactly what he is by Simon Amstell and Bill Bailey. I’ve always loved this programme, I never tired of Mark Lamarr’s pops at the “stars” of the industry and since his resignation, Simon Amstell has been superb; he has carried on in almost exactly the same style. Like Lamarr used to, Simon had a button that piped in a sound effect, this week it was the beginning of Anarchy in the UK – to which, Simon danced the most ridiculous dance. If Donny was really a punk, he’d have walked or retorted to all of the mockery, however, he couldn’t. His humiliation was complete at the end when Bill uttered, “You’re about as punk as Enya.” It’s all there on YouTube.

Finally, BBC Scotland is running adverts for a documentary about Molly Campbell/Misbah Rana called My Name is Misbah. I’m quite bored of the tale of Misbah. I can’t see why this story was ever deemed worthy of international attention. Perhaps, it was worthy of international attention, but I wouldn’t say it was necessary for the Scottish meedja to bother. If Misbah wanted to leave, Scotland should have just cut its losses, if someone doesn’t want to contribute to our society, let them leave. Misbah would have done well to keep her personal life private, but she hasn’t and in years to come, it’s something she’ll probably regret.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Trotters of Winter Bogs,

I wish I could write more often than I have been able to of late (I’m sorry I missed you, I had a secret meeting in the basement of my brain). Since I last called in on the Bloody Servants of the Paradise Estate, I can’t remember doing much, I remember being in the lab, in the office, in the car and in bed – that can’t be good. I don’t even have any cultural comments.

I’m sick of English news. We’re having wintry weather and we’re plodding onwards. Weather is weather, it’s not news. We had bird flu and we survived. In fact, that was back when I used to write quality articles for The Bellyaches.

There have been a lot of crows on the road. I become twitchy when there are things on the road: crows, pigeons, deer, cyclists, tanks and Nissan Micras. I’ve been enjoying my latest mixtape (Classic Cuts Vol. 22) immensely; it’s full of songs that I just want to hear over and over again (This Day, Just Like Christmas, Outside it’s Christmas, Go Go Ninja Dinosaur, Brussels Rambler, Telstar and so on and as such I've ruined the CD after a week with all the rewinding.

I haven’t really progressed much in the lab, but somehow I feel more comfortable with how things are. I’ve learned how to fix more things. I attended a lecture by one of the visiting academics. Jorg Feldmann was speaking about arsenic, I enjoyed the small dose of environmental chemistry.

I remember complaining about Bob Dylan’s Theme Time Radio Hour after it replaced 30 minutes of Marc Riley’s Brain Surgery. Actually, I quite enjoyed tonight’s episode. I still reckon that it’s just radio, it’s a decent selection of tunes. The fact that Bob Dylan is reciting facts that his researchers have found in between the tunes is neither here nor there.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Bloody Servants of the Paradise Estate,

It has been a low-key weekend, it could have been so much more hairy but in truth, I needed the rest. As it was, perhaps I had too much rest.

I decided to retire from the Kirkcaldy Astroturf Sunday 7-a-side Football League. I didn’t mind being beaten every week, it was the manner in which we were defeated which broke me. A few weeks ago, we were beaten 5-1 and it was an enjoyable game because everyone tried and although the other team had more good players than us, my defence did well and we knew that the players further forward were trying if not succeeding. However, games like that were too few and last week, we were beaten 11-1. I can honestly say that I only made one mistake and even then, there were still plenty of opportunities for a team mate to clear the danger before the ball eventually went into our net. There was a 10 goal winning margin and the victors were not technically better than us. It was best to cut my losses, each game was so frustrating.

I wouldn’t mind playing football on grass again. Brother is touting a competitive comeback for me, he keeps saying, (I should hope jokingly), that is his team would benefit from my presence in defence. I’m good enough not to deserve to be mauled with that 7-a-side team each Sunday but I doubt that I could improve any 11-a-side league team, however bad they were. It would be nice to do a crunching slide tackle again, instead of just doing the crunching slide tackles that I do at the moment, which are illegal in 5-a-sides halls or on the Astroturf pitches.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Ghostly Snipers Evoking Suspicion,

I suspect something major might be afoot this evening.

It’s possible to choose friends but not family. They’re not annoying me in particular, however, there are a few unnecessary, unfair, biased and unhelpful opinions knocking around at the minute.

Telephones haven’t stopped ringing for a variety of reasons this week, even the lab phone was plagued by cold calls for a few days. I resorted to pulling the plug on the phone this afternoon whilst everyone was out, Father would not have been amused. Even this evening, one member of the family phoned up to discuss H5N1.

In my field of chemistry, it’s important to do as much work and generate as many results as possible whilst the equipment is working properly. It’s temperamental and its functionality depends upon a great deal of fortune. My period of fortune lasted two days, I had worked for weeks to attain an optimum system, I managed to get a few results out of it. I planned to continue striking whilst the iron was hot but I arrived at work this morning to discover that the apparatus was no longer working. And so it goes.

Microsoft Office 2007 has been another obstacle to negotiate. Plotting graphs in Excel is a needlessly longer process than before. I’ve yet to investigate what changes have been made to the world’s worst piece of software – PowerPoint.

On a brighter note, I won a copy of Panic Prevention by Jamie T in a competition on the Vic Galloway website. T might be a departure from my usual listening traits, but I reckon T is alright. When artists like T or Lily Allen feature on KEXP, they don’t sound like overplayed, London nimrods, they actually sound like jolly good pop stars. Panic Prevention by T is good, I’ve said so.
This article on recycling was quite interesting.

That major incident that I suspected now seems like just an unusual occurrence, it might have been major incident that has been patched up.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Sneaky Sneaky Blogfriend,

It’s been a long week; I’m beginning to think that weeks don’t exist anymore – it’s just a continuum. Somewhere amongst it there was a pile of CDs and records pushed through the letterbox, some of which I’ve listened to often and some of which, are just being piped into the bubble where I live now.

I related some of my thoughts on Wincing the Night Away by The Shins to the Ruddy Sons Indulging in Ridiculous Repulsive Games amongst The Bellyaches posse. I’ve listened to this album a bit more. Musicology is sometimes about comparisons and I’m loathe to use one which involves my beloved Belle & Sebastian. Too many bands get compared to Belle & Sebastian, however (and I’m aware that I use “however” just a bit too much), when I’m listening to this album, I keep drawing parallels with aspects of Belle & Sebastian; it’s not blatant but it should be seen as a compliment.

I don’t know what to say about The Decemberists and their latest release, The Crane Wife. I don’t really want to exclude people from their music but I’m of the opinion that those who haven’t needed The Decemberists by now probably don’t need them and their folky acoustic dreariness at all. I need them and Picaresque is one of my most valued records. The Crane Wife is a bit darker. It’s quite odd why they’ve chosen to run two or three songs together in the same tracks but that hasn’t stopped KEXP playing those tracks.

Leaving the Nest by Benjy Ferree is quite something. It’s another album with an opening track that beckons the listeners in, “Here comes the host, who favours you most”, In the Countryside features a cheeky stomp throughout, a glockenspiel chorus and some whistling; it’s perfectly formed. The stomp continues into Dogkillers but it’s no longer so playful, it’s serious rock’n’roll; vocally, Benjy Ferree sounds a bit like Jack White and this track wouldn’t be out of place on a White Stripes or Raconteurs album. Violins are an important feature in some of the songs, they add a sadness and a sense of regret to songs such as the Cash cover A Little at a Time, a lament driven only by violin, a sparse acoustic guitar and some whistling or Private Honeymoon, a tale about a partner leaving for someone else, “a big boy, freckles just like mine, woolly red hair, sticks a spear in my side”, told only with the backing of piano and violin. Hollywood Sign seems like a good candidate to be a single; it’s an upbeat number - a harmonica-driven, whimsical and playful mess. The only problem that I encountered with this album was that Domino did not send enough posters and badges with it.

The Needles’ debut album, In Search of The Needles, was released sometime last year. Their songs received a bit of airplay from Mark Lamarr and they indeed played a live session on his radio show. I’ve only just managed to catch up with them. Listening to this album full of really punchy rock’n’roll songs from the Aberdeen 4-piece sssssickens me, I’m mystified as to how they’ve remained in relative obscurity whilst the likes of Razorlight top the charts. Girl I Used to Know is perhaps the standout track on an album that has me drawing comparisons all over the shop, but it’s fine because they’ve adopted the classic styles of some of the purveyors of the finest pop and they’ve produced something really, really worthwhile.

It was refreshing to hear Mr Sandman by The Chordettes on the 6music this evening, it’s an unforgettable bit of pop. Similarly, Sneaky Sneaky Dogfriend by Connan and the Mockasins embeds itself in the brain of its receivers, it’s the bop-along bassline and the childish subject matter that make it so addictive; it’s not often that I buy singles but I made an exception. The song just seems as though it’s been around for ages, it should be another piece of timeless pop for the generations to come but not enough people will get to hear it.

Also, Ghetto Pony are perhaps worth looking at, they have a number of songs that can be downloaded from their website, seems like they are into electronic noodling of the ambient yet quite industrial nature. I’ve never heard of them or have I fully investigated but I succumbed to one of their tunes this afternoon.

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