Top 5

Awesome april:

1) Wasted Away – Dum Dum Girls

The lead singer Dee Dee wrote the album that this is taken from just after losing her mum to cancer. It’s an amazing album, so emotional and raw. Hence, this song got some play this month. This song is one of the few pieces of art (along with the first 20 minutes of Up) that are guaranteed to make me cry.

2) You Lust – The Flaming Lips

The fulcrum of the new Lips’ album. A distillation of anger and hopelessness.

3) Love Spells – Bleached

The sun’s finally out! Great new album and this is the reason that we did Dead To The World for this month’s Live in a Lounge. Well, I can hear a bit of similarity in that chord progression…

4) The School Song – Black Box Recorder

I love a bit of Luke Haines but for some reason I only just got the third Black Box Recorder album. All together now, “destroy your record collection, it’s for your own protection”

5) Something For The Weekend – Super Furry Animals

Making a late bid for first dance at the wedding

Live In A Lounge

LiaL Screengrab April

Yes, it’s that time of month again! Time for another “live in a lounge” session. This month our friend Sly very kindly lent us the use of his front room. Sly asked us if we ever have any themes running through our choice of songs for LiaL, but as you can see the answer is no:

Modern Culture
Maggie’s Farm
Gloria
Dead To The World

Although we did play Bob Dylan’s Maggie’s Farm to mark the death of Thatcher this month. Anthony especially enjoyed playing that E-chord over and over again. Then we followed it up with a song by Jonny about Gloria Estefan as a kind of ’80s sorbet to freshen the mind from all of those thoughts about dearly departed Maggie. Not to be confused with Gloria by Them.

As for the originals this month, we’d not played Dead To The World live since april 2008. We’ve also never done it unplugged before. It soon came flooding back though.

Modern Culture (originally Mono Culture) is almost as old. We tried it at rehearsals a few times when Stu was still in the band but we couldn’t get it to work well enough to unleash on the public. The Bo Diddley beat works really well acoustically though. All that’s missing is me playing two sets of maracas in a Mick Jagger stylee. And of course it was really hard to not sing the words to this advert. Which is quite ironic bearing in mind what the songs about.

The recording itself went pretty well. We’d had a quick rehearsal outside while we’d waited for Sly to get home from work but, as always, our best performance was probably the last run-through before we actually started filming. On the first take, I messed up the last verse of Maggie’s Farm but Ant covered for me. Then I completely fluffed the last verse of Gloria so we started the filming again. Fortunately, I didn’t make any further glaring errors.

You Khan’t Hurry Love

There was an interesting article on the BBC website this morning asking why Amir Khan isn’t really loved in this country. There’s one very obvious elephant in the room when it comes to this but I think that there’s more to it than just racism. Personally, I think that there are another couple of problems that people have with Amir.

Firstly, he’s incredibly arrogant and it’s there’s one thing that we like in this country it’s to see arrogance brought back down to earth. This was exemplified by his last defeat. There was footage before the fight of him training with Freddie Roach where Amir was being warned exactly what punch to look out for. Despite specifically training it, he was still knocked out by that exact punch. Then he blamed Freddie Roach and sacked him as his trainer.

We don’t mind people losing in this country. In fact we love our comeback kings but you have to be able to lose with some contrition and Amir hasn’t proved that he can do that.

Secondly, there was the hope. When he first broke through at the Olympics, we thought that he would go on to be a proper world-class boxer and it hasn’t quite happened. In this country, we don’t mind if our sporting heroes are never going to be genuine world beaters. Look at Frank Bruno and Tim Henman, we loved them but in our heart of hearts we knew that while they were good, they were never going to be great.

We thought that Amir Khan was going to be different and at some level we’re disappointed that he hasn’t turned that potential into actual talent. There’s a definite comparison to be drawn to Lewis Hamilton, another young, arrogant sportsman who divides people in this country.

Of course sometimes there are mitigating circumstances that prevent that conversion of raw potential into actual talent. However, when combined with Amir’s arrogance, it just comes across that he’s not willing to put in the hard work required.

In brings to my mind two other sportsmen – Andy Murray and Christiano Ronaldo. In their youth they were seen as good players of their chosen sports but they also had that arrogant streak. However, they have both been willing to put in a lot of hard work and are now world-class athletes. Ronaldo may still be like Marmite due to still being so arrogant but at least he can back it up now. Look at Murray though, he’s lost finals and been contrite in defeat. He’s worked at his game, he’s worked at his attitude and now he’s almost reached national treasure status.

All of this isn’t to downplay the fact that a lot of the aggro that Amir gets is of a racist nature. Although it always confuses me as to how you could be racist towards someone from Bolton.

Downtown Abbey

Thank you for the gift vouchers

We met Andy, our wedding DJ last weekend. Since he lives in Peterborough, we agreed to meet him half-way and so we all went to Grantham. We had a great little half-an-hour chat and it looks like he’ll be able to play the type of music that we want which is great. Especially since Elmo was worried that it would be like the last wedding that she went to where they played the Grease mega-mix four times.

While we were in Grantham, we decided to visit Downtown. Now, this is a place that my dad is obsessed with; he keeps going on and on about it. He talks about how they sell everything and have a huge garden centre. Now, we’ve never shown any inclination to ever go to Downtown but he bought Elmo some gift vouchers for the place for her birthday so we figured that we should go and at least check it out since we were in the vicinity.

Well, we got there and it’s true what the advert says; you can get it all Downtown. So we pottered around a bit and picked out some stuff that came to about a pound or so more than the value of Elmo’s gift vouchers. However, when we got to the counter we were told that we couldn’t use the vouchers as they weren’t for Downtown as my dad had said but rather they were for Boundary Mills.

For those who have never been, Downtown is basically a huge warehouse situated just off the A1. The thing is that not all of this huge warehouse is actually Downtown, part of it is owned by another company; Boundary Mills. We had a look around that part and it looked like a slightly up-market TK Maxx. It’s the sort of place that sells a lot of the sort of clothes that my dad would buy but Elmo could find nothing in there that suited her.

Of course the worst thing about the whole episode was the shame that we felt when we were told that our vouchers weren’t valid. We had to tell the guy in there that we didn’t want any of this stuff, that we’d spent the best part of an hour choosing. Not a great situation to be in.

The other thing is that Elmo now has these vouchers for a place that she will never use and, in fact, we’ll probably never visit again. My suggestion was that she re-gift them back to my dad when his birthday comes around.

Hash.Tag

My boss Nikki, drove us down to Slough and back this week. Despite being into a similar sort of music to me, she clings on, listening to Radio 1. Now, I understand her reasons for not wanting to “graduate” to Radio 2 but I don’t really get why anyone would listen to Radio 1.

To be fair, at least we went early enough to miss most of the breakfast show which has a really bad ratio of prattle to actual music. Although, bearing in mind some of the music that they play, I’m not entirely sure that’s a good thing.

In fact the last time I went down to Slough with work and we listened to Radio 1, they only played six songs during the entire two and a half hour drive down there. On the way back, listening to the drivetime show, they also only played six songs. Five of the songs were the same.

These days at least they played Palma Violets on the way down and they rather randomly played Crying Lightning by Arctic Monkeys when we were coming back. However, they were the only guitar tracks that they played.

Anyway, enough moaning about the Radio 1 playlist. On both the journey down and the trip back we heard a song by fan of punctuation William featuring Justin Bieber. The track is called #thatpower and probably came out ages ago but these were the first times that I’d heard it. The problem I have is not with the song itself which is awful but with the title. The issue is that hashtag.

Surely it’s been included that to appeal to the “Twitter generation”. As Ant and I discussed on the last LiaL video, kids these days actually use the word hashtag in everyday speech. The thing is; what if I want to tweet about this song? What do I put? It’s already got a hashtag in it so would I tweet ##thatpower? It just doesn’t make any sense.

Come friendly bombs

I remember this one

I remember this one

So, thanks to work I find myself in Slough this evening. I’m staying at Burnham Beeches hotel which is where England used to stay during the Sven Goran Erikson years. It’s nice enough but for somewhere that a group of millionaires used to stay, it’s a bit underwhelming. The rooms aren’t that much better than a generic chain hotel such as Premier Inn. And the gym is pathetic – one treadmill, one cross trainer, one exercise bike, a single resistance machine and some free weights. Surely the cream of England’s footballers didn’t have to put up with that? No wonder we never won anything…

Review: Ride Your Heart by Bleached

The Ramones, and Joey in particular, made no secret of their love of the great girl groups, especially the Phil Spector produced ones. Recently, female-fronted bands like Dum Dum Girls have taken this to its logical conclusion; girl group harmonies over fast three chord music. The newest band in this sub-genre is Bleached.

Obviously, I love the Ramones and that Phil Spector vibe so this album is right up my street. There are even some tracks, such as Dreaming Without You, where the vocal delivery sounds just like Joey. However, it’s not all good. There are a couple of tracks that have more of a 1980’s sound which on one hand, offer something a bit different but on the other, just aren’t quite as good as the rest. Sometimes the lyrics also verge a little on cliché. Outta My Mind is probably the worst offender on both cases there.

In general, it’s a really good album though. Next Stop wouldn’t sound out-of-place on the Ramones’ debut while the title track bears a resemblance to I Wanna Be Your Dog.

Download: Love Spells

If you like this, try: Listen To My Heart by Ramones

Off! Off! Off!

Reading this article reminded me of the of the only sending off that I saw in my days playing Grantham Saturday league football, which was not only violent but extremely funny. Our right back was a Scottish guy called Billy and about halfway through the second half he scythed down the opposition winger. He was fine but their centre back who’d been marking me all game took umbrage at the challenge. He ran more than half the length of the pitch and threw a punch. It had no effect on Billy but he unleashed a series of four or five right hands that put their centre back down and later gave him a huge swelling above his eye.

Just watching this guy run so far to get punched in the face was hilarious. The ref had no choice but to send them both off. After the match Billy apologised to the ref and we all had a good laugh about it in the bar. Unsurprisingly, their centre back didn’t join us, he just quietly slunk away once the game was over.

That was the week that was

A lot of debate this week about whether Thatcher was really one of our greatest ever Prime Ministers. Of course she wasn’t. She wasn’t in the same league as Chruchill or Atlee. In fact, I’m sure there were some better 19th century options:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZyZ7oU0tUR8

Of course one of the things that the right try and point out to us to make us soften our view on Thatcher is the fact that she was part of the team that invented Mr Whippy ice cream. The thing is, it’s not true:

Fact Check: Was Margaret Thatcher really part of the team that invented Mr Whippy?