Music: RIP MCA (Thoughts on Adam Yauch and the Beastie Boys)

adam yauch mca beastie boysIt’s weird – I’d never describe myself as a dedicated Beastie Boys fan – there are certain tracks I love, and others that I’m not fond of – and yet the death of Adam Yauch, founder member of the hip-hop pioneers, has ended up one of those moments where I read about a celebrity death on Twitter and actually feel sad, like the world’s a slightly less interesting place now. The Beastie Boys were one of those bands I was aware of for ages, but never really locked onto – I can remember right back to their first major days as the leery punky white-rapping loudmouths of the Licence to Ill era, and they certainly didn’t look like the kind of band who’d be sticking around for long. But they did, and with their second album, the brilliant and fantastically sample-heavy Paul’s Boutique, they started heading in different and adventurous directions. Weirdly enough, the first Beastie Boys track that I really liked was thanks to an edition of Chris Morris’s anarchic Radio 1 show that I’d taped off the radio and listened to death – as well as Morris’s bizarre, head-expanding comedy, there was also an eclectic mix of music, including a track that turned out to be the second (much faster and louder) half of ‘The Sounds of Science’ from Paul’s Boutique. And, I found myself listening over and over again to it – I’d always kind of liked rap, but that was the first time I started really understanding the linguistic creativity and sheer coolness that could be pulled off by really good rap artists. I’ve enjoyed bits and bobs of the Beastie Boys’s output over the years (including the magnificent Criterion Collection DVD collection of their videos), but I think what I admired most was the enthusiasm, passion and creativity that exploded out of virtually everything they did. The music of theirs that I loved took me in some new directions (For example – I’d never have seen the wonderful Sixties cult movie Danger: Diabolik if they hadn’t used footage from it in the wonderful Bodymovin’ video), and I’m genuinely sad that the founder member, Adam Yauch – a brilliant rap artist, and the straight man to the more wild and cartoony fellow band members Mike D and Ad Rock – has just succumbed to cancer at only 48.

So, in honour of the Beasties, here’s a selection of their brilliantly anarchic videos. Kick back and enjoy…

Video/Audio: Movie Tech-A-Go-Go (Sound and Vision – TRON: Legacy, The Social Network and Inception)

It’s time to indulge my love of finding out the fine details of how certain movies are made, and here’s a couple of videos I tracked down that give in-depth looks at aspects of two of the more attention-grabbing films of the last few months (admittedly, they’re attention grabbing for very different reasons). First up, here’s a one hour in-depth panel discussion with the sound and editing team from TRON: Legacy, giving a detailed look at the development and creation of the movie’s soundscapes from the initial teaser right through to the finished film:

“TRON LEGACY” – Sound Panel from Michael Coleman on Vimeo.

And secondly, here’s another panel discussion, but this one dealing with music and sound design on a very different kind of movie – David Fincher’s brilliant portrait of the birth of Facebook, The Social Network. In this 45-minute discussion, there’s lots of attention paid both to the sound design and the music itself, and composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross have a lot to say about the thoughts that went into creating a brilliant piece of electronica and one of 2010’s finest film soundtracks:

The Sound and Music of “The Social Network” Panel from Michael Coleman on Vimeo.

Finally, here, via, is a 45 minute audio interview with Wally Pfister, the cinematographer who’s worked on every single Christopher Nolan film since Memento, and here gives plenty of info on Nolan’s working methods and the technical know-how behind the mind-bending SF thriller Inception, as well as giving out some vague but extremely interesting tidbits concerning Nolan’s upcoming third Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises…

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Comics Review – Phonogram : Rue Britannia

Writer: Kieron Gillen ~ Art: Jamie McKelvie ~ Publisher: Image ~ Year: 2006

Phonogram - Rue Britannia Cover - Jamie McKelvie

[xrr rating=4/5]

The Low-Down: A low-key but surprisingly engaging urban fantasy that blends mythology with the NME, this characterful comics miniseries takes a wonderfully left-field look at pop music and what it does to us.

The Backstory: Everybody knows about Phonomancy, right? The way you can use music to do magic? One of the simplest tricks in the books. Used correctly, music can do anything, touch on any emotions and unlock all kinds of doors…

What’s it About?: It’s 2006 and David Kohl, Phonomancer and egotist, is having a bad day. A one-night stand has come back to haunt him, and now he’s got a mystery to unravel. Someone is interfering with Britannia – the spiritual godhead of Britpop, dead these past ten years – and both his memory and reality itself are starting to alter and unravel…

The Story: Comics can do anything. You want proof? Look at Phonogram, a brilliantly oddball exploration of music and myth that dances along the edge between fantasy and music journalism without ever quite toppling either way. It’s the kind of work that’d feel too slight or too laboured in any other medium, but sits perfectly in comics, taking you on a quiet and characterful fantasy journey through Britpop. One of the best things about it is simply the way it plays the magic and fantasy as completely matter-of-fact and ordinary – because of course it isn’t about the magic, it’s about pop music, memory, and the way nostalgia can be both a comfort and your worst enemy. The word ‘urban’ springs to mind, and Phonogram is a genuinely urban fantasy that, even four years after being first published, does something fresh and inventive with a sub-genre that’s still mired in werewolf-shagging and winsome vampires.

Phonogram - Internal Art - Jamie McKelviePhonogram is something else altogether – a world of memory kingdoms and rituals, where ghosts are still mourning the absence of Manic Street Preachers guitarist Richey Edwards and whole lives can be defined by the music people listen to. Comparisons have been made to the long-running Vertigo series Hellblazer (starring breathlessly cynical magician/bastard John Constantine), and there are definite echoes in the landscape and atmosphere of the comic – but Phonogram has a weirdness and a sense of playfulness all of its own. The whole thing was a labour of love for writer Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie (Gillen has already said in interviews that thanks to making so little money on Phonogram, the chances of any return visits after the brilliant second volume The Singles Club is unlikely), and making a comic-book voyage through the mythic landscape of Britpop is certainly one of those endeavours that qualifies as heroic. Like all the best music journalism, Phonogram flirts occasionally with pretension and isn’t afraid of wearing its heart on its sleeve. It’s also not afraid of throwing in references or unexpectedly mythic cameos that its audience might not get (there’s a detailed four-page glossary in the back of the book for anyone who didn’t live through the Britpop years), and certainly doesn’t go for attention-grabbing tactics of action, sex or gore. This is a late-night wander of a graphic novel, the kind of story that’ll strike a chord with anyone who’s ever lost themselves in a song or experienced that one grand pop passion that somehow sums up a period of your life.

Phonogram art - Jamie McKelvieIt’s also wickedly funny, with the entertainingly cynical Kohl acting as a brilliantly engaging (and occasionally foul-mouthed) protagonist. Gillen’s characterisation here is top notch, creating a rich cast of characters, especially the ascerbic and spiky Phonomancer Emily Aster, and delivering a whole series of finely crafted one-liners. A comic series that knows it isn’t for everyone (and isn’t trying to be), Rue Britannia is a little rough around the edges, but like all good pop, it’s the flaws and imperfections that make the moments of brilliance worthwhile.

The Art: Printed in black-and-white, Jamie McKelvie’s art style here is deceptively simple – he’s got a very clean-lined approach that’s almost the exact opposite of modern-day superhero comic art. Take a single panel, and it might look a little too simple – but place it in context, and you get a gorgeously easy visual ride that guides you through the story. He’s also brilliant at capturing characters – not many artists can handle making lengthy conversations visually interesting – and gives the whole series an off-beat, expressive and unique atmosphere.

The Verdict: Weird. Wonderful. Verging on essential. An excellent example of the kind of strange and unusual territory comics can explore – and the follow-up, The Singles Club, is even better.

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This Too Shall Pass

Ah, freelance work. You barely call in January, hardly a whisper. Was it something I said?, I thought to myself. And then, February heats up. And now, I’ve got two and a half crammed weeks ahead of me, which is probably going to significantly reduce any chance of blogging more than “Urk”. (It’s one of the things I like about Twitter – I feel like I can be a lot more free-associative and random over there, when I’ve only got 140 word entries to play with. It doesn’t feel right to not put something vaguely significant here. Or maybe it’s just me…)

Being busy is good, although it does mean I’ll be slowing down a bit on the book. I passed the 100,000 word mark on Chill Out. And I’m nowhere, NOWHERE near done. I reckon there’s a good 40,000 words to go before I’ve got the entire story down. Once that happens, there’ll be trimming, and streamlining, and hopefully it’ll be a relatively sensible size. I’m still having decent ideas – only today, a bit of the climax that I’d choreographed in my head that was still bothering me suddenly resolved itself, and it means I’ve got a nice bit of action that’s also emotional and only takes a small amount of setup. I’m still aware of the fact that this is going to be a truly massive amount of work once the first draft is done… but I still feel like there’s something there, something that’s a bit more characterful than The Hypernova Gambit (of which I am still planning on final, devil-may-care rewrite to get it comfortably under 150,000 words. Or maybe lower. I’m feeling daring…).

And, following what’s becoming a faintly regular feature of posting cool music-related stuff I’ve found, here’s the latest video from off-beat US rock band Ok Go. I found out about them purely because of their video for ‘Here We Go Again’, which is a brilliant bit of lo-fi filmmaking that just consists of the four members of the band doing an intricate bit of choreography on a series of treadmills and – this being the key to the whole exercise – it’s all done in one static shot. I can remember watching the video and being incredibly impressed that they actually got away with such a looney idea – it’s also the kind of thing that’s difficult to top, and can easily turn into the one thing that band is known for. Well, with their latest video, This Too Shall Pass, I think they’ve actually managed to top it – it’s a wonderfully demented idea. Admittedly, I’ve seen something in this ballpark before – there’s a video by The Bravery called ‘An Honest Mistake’ which is based around a fairly big Rube Goldberg-style setup, but most of it’s generated through clever editing. Here, it’s all done for real, in one take (there’s one point where there may be an edit, but it’s really difficult to tell), and it’s a thing of nutty beauty that’s worth enjoying:

And, for completion’s sake, here’s a link to the Here We Go Again treadmill video.

Right. Lots to do. And not much time to do it in…

Turn Off Your Mind – Relax and Float Downstream…

And following some silence, some talk about music.

The Beatles back catalogue has been re-released, and in a move that is typical of me, funky packaging and ludicrously priced box-sets suddenly start getting me going “Ooooh…” I don’t think I’ve ever qualified as a Beatles fan – in the same way that I have a huge fondness for Star Wars and can acknowledge it as a hugely influential bit of SF cinema, but if you gave me a choice I’d pick the colourful camp nonsense of the 1982 version of Flash Gordon every time. They’re one of those bands who had such an absurdly gigantic effect and whose music at various points has been so bloody omnipresent that you can almost forget that they were just a band. And so, despite the hilariously expensive box-sets eyeballing me (especially the collectors-only ‘Beatles in Mono’ set – £200 is a ridiculous price, and yet there’s a tiny, very silly bit of me that covets it…) I decided to dip my toe in the water. Beatles-wise, I’ve always been more interested in listening to their later, experimental phase, so I went for Revolver, which is now looked on as the actual barnstorming classic that’s overtaken the ever-so-slightly overrated (but still revolutionary) Sgt. Pepper. And, I have to admit that I liked what I heard. The quality on the remastering is great, with an awesome level of clarity, and it’s good to be able to actually sit back and realise that these really are excellent songs – you can listen to tracks like Taxman, Eleanor Rigby or Got To Get You Into My Life and hear the level of artistry at work in them, the way they still sound modern and adventurous even now (and not simply because so many bands have ripped them off). It’s bonkers and psychedelic in a whole number of ways, from the full-on sitar action of ‘Love To You’ to the absolutely mind-blowing galaxy warp of ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’, which basically sounds like a Chemical Brothers track done in 1967. You can argue about exactly how much they did and didn’t do, but it simply isn’t possible to listen to Revolver and not be slightly in awe of what the Beatles acheived.

A side-effect of my current life is that I’m kind of isolated from new pop music. I don’t listen to the radio, I don’t have access to any music TV channels (which I used to watch a ridiculous amount, so maybe part of that is a good thing), so it’s very easy for things to pass me by. This is why, essentially, I hadn’t heard a single track by eighties-throwback-synth band La Roux, despite the fact that I was aware they were doing the kind of synthy-electro pop that would distinctly float my boat. I was aware they were around, I was aware that the front girl (it’s actually a two-person set-up, although the vocalist is the ‘face’ – like Goldfrapp, but without the bloke occasionally lurking in the background while Alison Goldfrapp does her spookily sexy thang) had a fantastically stylised and ever-so-slightly ridiculous scarlet Eighties quiff, and I was aware their album got nominated for the Mercury Music Prize, but I hadn’t actually heard any of their stuff. It was a mash-up that did it – I listened through to a track, and I can’t recall what it was mixed with, but the instrumental (along with a bit of the chorus) was ‘Bulletproof’ by La Roux. I liked what I heard – not in a “I must purchase that at once!” manner, but enough to file it away for further reference. And then, I was scrolling along through Youtube – there was a long period where various music companies got snooty about the idea of music videos being on Youtube and either pulled them or flagged them with a ‘not available in the UK’ tag, and about three weeks ago, purely by accident, I discovered that this was no longer the case. So, searching around on the various pages and channels, I happenned upon a link to the video of ‘Bulletproof’:

At that point, my brain went “Ooh!” It’s partly the groovy CG work (which heavily reminds me of the computer game Portal – I love it when CG really isn’t meant to look realistic), it’s partly the fact that it’s like having the Eighties surgically injected into your eyeballs, and it’s partly the fact that I’ve always had a liking for odd female vocalists who are very determinedly doing their own thing (even if it’s being a bequiffed Eighties tomboy with Toyah-esque make-up that at various points in the video has me shrieking “Tone down the eyeshadow! TONE DOWN THE EYESHADOW!!!”) It’s a great song, there’s certain bits in the video that I adore, there’s a whole selection of eye-searing fashions of the kind that have me filing concepts and looks away for further reference, and I found myself playing it quite a few times.

Then, I found the video to their previous single, Quicksand:

And at this point, my brain went “Ooh!” even more, and also went “Find the make-up artist and/or stylist on the Bulletproof video, and KILL THEM!” Maybe that’s a slight exagerration, but I can’t think of the last time when I saw make-up and a slightly different hairstyle making such a difference – I mean, if anything, it’s just a very good example of the kind of change that can happen just if you shoot someone a different way. I mean, aside from the slightly-less kooky hair, I don’t know that I would have even known it was the same girl on the first watch – again, she’s still slightly odd and tomboyish here, but in the kind of way which, back in the late eighties, would have completely bowled me over and had me nursing a completely unrequited crush. Bizarre, but true.

After this, it wasn’t long before I tracked the video for ‘In For The Kill’ (which I can’t find an embed for, so click here), which I liked even more, if only for the fact that it’s so completely retro and Eighties. Even the video is retro – aside from the slick photography and the occasional bursts of funky digital effects, it’s exactly the kind of oddly stylised nonsense that was being pulled back on Top of the Pops circa 1981 (hell, shoot it on video and it’d be a dead ringer for a Toyah video, especially thanks to her willfully eccentric hair).

The practical upshot of this is that I spent the next few days regularly watching all three of the above tracks to an extent where it was getting slightly ridiculous, and I essentially had to order myself to get the hell down to either Fopp or HMV and actually buy the album. (Yes, there are times when the Youtube media model actually works). So, I did, and I’ve been listening the hell out of it ever since I got it. She’s an interesting and slightly odd vocalist – I get the feeling that for some people she’ll be the audio equivalent of Marmite, as there’s a spiky sharpness to her voice on some tracks, which is kind of increased by the deliberately treble-heavy and extremely Eighties-style production (Apparently the technical term for this is ‘gakky’, if you needed to know…) – there are occasional points where it borders on too much, but it’s a great album that doesn’t comit the sin of going on too long (slice the bonus track off and it’s barely 40 minutes), and it’s the exact perfect mix of beats, synths, attitude and occasional melancholy for my current mood.

It’s also an album I can easily listen to all the way through – something that isn’t quite the case with the debut album of Ladyhawke. Also very eighties-orientated, she’s slightly more of the rock persuasion, and her self-titled debut does have some very good tracks on it, although it’s one of those albums where certain tracks tend to blend together, and you can’t help feeling they could have lost at least a third of the whole album without making too much difference. However, one of my favourite tracks on the album is the opening track ‘Magic’ – it was what made me want to get the album in the first place, regularly listening to it on one of the listening posts at HMV in Picadilly last October, while I was suffering through the trauma that was my final London Film Festival. It’s a brilliant, storming piece of pop, and I was kind of amazed on one of my Youtube searches to see that it was actually being released as a single, and had acquired a video. “Great!” I thought.

Then… however… I actually watched it:

Oh. My. God. Can’t quite believe it, and can’t think of another example of a song I like matched to an absolutely bloody terrible video. I mean, conceptually it could have been okay – kooky silent movie Georges Melies-style melodrama can be incredibly effective – but there’s so much in this that just makes me want to hunt down the director and do something exceptionally painful to them. With hammers. If it isn’t the grinning tribal maniac, it’s the fact that the whole rambling quest seems to revolve around rescuing a very bored looking Puerto-Rican sailor, who doesn’t even seem that excited to be rescued. Hell, all they needed to do is go watch some Guy Maddin movies to find out how you do that kind of thing right, but they didn’t. A brilliant song, an absolute bloody mess of a video.

So, to cheer myself up and stop myself growling in the corner, here’s something that’s much, much, MUCH better – the Georges Melies-inspired video to ‘Tonight Tonight’ by the Smashing Pumpkins.

Dig Your Own Hole

Updates aren’t very frequent, mainly because the Uber-Ultra-Secret Project is currently eating my life. I don’t know if it’s the lack of anything major to distract me (both in a positive and a negative way) or if it’s simply that I’m becoming obsessed, but it’s certainly getting very difficult to not work on it. I’m feeling the need to write as a compulsion which, to be honest, kind of new for me – I’m usually exceptionally good at finding excuses not to, but at the moment I can barely be stopped. I’ve got some proofreading coming up this week, which is going to help take my mind off things for a while (structure is sometimes very, very useful), and I’ve worked out that with all the money I’ve got coming in, I can currently survive up until the beginning of July – admittedly, that’s on a damnably tight budget and not really having anything that closely resembles a ‘life’, but it’s also meaning I can do things like my work on the Secret Project, and that I’m not going to have to go and get a horrible day job quite yet (My fingers are remaining crossed that this doesn’t end…). So for now, this is me- poised at my keyboard, and typing like the very forces of hell are right behind me.

On a musical note, I’ve actually been able to pick up a stack of CDs in the last month or so for extremely equitable prices (the highest price I paid for any of them was £3) – I’ve notched up Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys (which is possibly a little too retro for my tastes), Neon Bible by Arcade Fire (big, epic, passionate and doomy, it’s widescreen rock that’s a long way from the kind of middle-of-the-road nonsense that currently pollutes the airwaves), Ta-Dah by Scissor Sisters (which I think has to be officially labelled as a disappointment – I love their first album, but this is very samey, and I’ve yet to make it all the way through without getting bored), Pretty Odd by Panic at the Disco (exceeedingly Beatles-esque and very good fun, but it’s not quite varied enough to work as a Sgt. Pepper take-off – once I get beyond the halfway point, all the songs start sounding the same), The Black Parade is Dead! by My Chemical Romance (A Live album which is pretty good, and I’m developing a bizarre soft spot for MCR, slightly helped by the fact that the comic book MCR frontman Gerard Way is writing – The Umbrella Academy – is damn good stuff), Dig Your Own Hole by The Chemical Brothers – (A massive, huge electro album that’s epic enough to excuse the couple of tracks that are really just burbly filler – climactic track ‘The Private Psychedelic Reel’ is like a galaxy-warping cross between ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ by the Beatles and the ‘Through the Stargate’ sequence from 2001: A Space Oddyssey), Greatest Hits Volume 2 by Madonna (Nowhere near as good as The Immaculate Collection – also covers a much smaller time and shows that between Vogue and the ‘Ray of Light’ album, she really didn’t do much of note. It was £1.50, that’s my excuse…), Speakerboxxx/The Love Below by Outkast (an absurdly sprawling double album that’s far too long and simultaneously shows everything that’s both right and wrong with US hip hop/R+B – the comedy interludes get wearing, and there’s a bit too much jazz noodling on The Love Below, but there’s also some genuinely brilliant stuff here, and Speakerboxxx is a fantastically listenable rap album crammed to bursting with hooks. I liked this a lot more than I expected, and if they’d sliced it down to one album it would be downright amazing), and Parade by Prince and the Revolution (An album that has the bad luck to be the ‘soundtrack’ to Prince’s bloody awful movie Under The Cherry Moon – especially annoying since it’s an absolutely brilliant album, showcasing exactly how good a musician Prince was back in his mid-Eighties glory days (and, I would say, how much better he was with decent collaborators. Things weren’t quite the same once Wendy & Lisa jumped ship and the ‘Revolution’ ended).It’s the kind of album that runs the gamut of almost every available style, and among the camp funk and gorgeous pop (this is the album where you’ll find ‘Kiss’), there’s also ‘Sometimes It Snows In April’, an absolute heartbreaker of a ballad that once again persuades me that melancholy strikes a strong chord with me at the moment…). I think that’ll be enough to occupy me for a while…

Temptation Waits

First time I saw him, Tom Waits scared the hell out of me.

It was sometime in 1988 (I think), and I was watching the TV special based around the Red Hot and Blue project, an AIDS awareness thing where a whole bunch of pop stars and others were doing cover versions of Cole Porter songs. It was a pretty eclectic selection, going from David Byrne to U2 to Neneh Cherry and others, and everything was burbling along fairly normally – until suddenly, we got this song that didn’t even sound completely like music. There was some kind of odd, humpity blues thing going on, a hoarse, weird screaming voice over it, and the video accompanying it was a weird, distorted 8mm film of a frankly rather worrying and distinctly simian-looking bloke. The only way I can described the effect on my teenage consciousness, is to paraphrase comedian Lewis Black (actually talking here about N*synch and Aerosmith playing together) – “What they were playing wasn’t music – it was the sound of chaos! Pigs were being slaughtered, women were sobbing, men were gnashing their teeth, and there were sounds so terrible I cannot describe them to you, lest you flee from the room!!” It was disturbing and scary and odd enough to make me go “What in god’s name was that?!?”, and it took checking the end credits to find out that I’d had my first encounter with Tom Waits, who in this case was doing a somewhat loose interpretation of “It’s Alright With Me”.

I hadn’t liked what I heard – but it stuck in my memory. And even if you didn’t like Tom Waits, it was rather hard to avoid him – if it wasn’t Heartattack and Vine turning up on a Levi’s commercial (even if, if I’m remembering rightly, it was a cover by Screaming Jay Hawkins), it was the man himself turning up in an uncredited cameo in the quite wonderful film The Fisher King (which is also arguably Terry Gilliam’s last genuinely great movie in the last seventeen years, sadly enough). So, while I still wasn’t tempted to investigate more, I was aware of Tom Waits. I knew he was there. And over the years, despite still not having heard that much of his music, I couldn’t help but start to respect him. I’ve always had a liking for people who do their own thing, and Waits has always seemed to be the working definition of that idea. Plus, almost all of his acting appearences have been eccentric, bizarre, and eye-catching – most especially, his cameo in Tony Scott’s borderline psychotic (and yet perversely entertaining) DOMINO, where Waits just turns up randomly as either himself or a messenger from God, and I can remember the odd joy of thinking “Oh my god- it’s Tom Waits!!”

I knew his albums almost always got good reviews. I knew that the cover of ‘Bone Machine’ was somewhat worrying. I knew he was an artist who’d gone through a number of phases in his career. But still, he was someone I respected without ever actually picking up a disc and trying out some of his music.

Well, this week I finally put paid to that. Thanks to the wonder that is low-budget record store Fopp, I was able to pick up a copy of ‘Used Songs’, a compilation covering Waits’ career from 1973-1980, for the bargain price of £3. Now, I do know that this is, comparitively speaking, the most normal phase of Waits’ career, but I have to admit that so far, I’m hooked. Waits does have one of the weirdest voices on the planet – it’s bluesy, and smoky, and hoarse, and soulful, and about ten other descriptions none of which will ever quite encapsulate it. There are moments where it’s almost too weird to cope with, and yet I’m gradually getting used to it, and finding that there are some truly beautiful songs on this album. It’s music for late at night, music that makes me think I should be propping up the bar in some smoke-filled speakeasy or dive bar, nursing a bottle of bourbon (and I don’t even drink bourbon, for gawd’s sake). It’s music for misfits, for the lost and the broken, for the people who sometimes find themselves falling through the cracks. It’s got one song – ‘Ol ’55’ – that’s in danger of becoming one of my current favourite songs, and a whole selections of others that are the kind of slow, jazzy, compulsive listens that are nestling inside my head and refusing to leave. It’s also melancholic in the best sense, and so is (rather understandably) somewhat fitting some of my moods right now. I don’t know how much further I’m going to proceed into the Kingdom of Waits – but so far, I think I’m liking what I hear.

You don’t need to know my name to figure out how cool I am…

It might be nearly five days at home, or it might be a whole selection of unresolved things happening in life at the moment tat I wish would hurry up and resolve themselves, but I’m kind of tetchy at the moment. I am, at least, getting plenty of work out of the way, and have just bagged another three reviews that’ll make the next couple of months easier. I’m just not certain if I’ve actually succeeded in my intention of relaxing – I have the worrying feeling that the last few days have actually left me thrumming like a recently plucked guitar string.

At the least, I’m glorying in some new music. While subbing last week, I was working in front of screens showing the music video channel NME TV – distracting at the best of times, but when the following video came on, it didn’t matter that there was no sound- I simply sat there, gobsmacked, and wanted to know what the hell it was. The track is “DVNO” by a French dance duo called Justice, and it’s what’s known as a grower – I wasn’t sure if I liked it the first time I heard it over the video, but now it’s living on my iPod and being played fairly frequently. I love the video simply for its insane graphic style, the way it manages (with only a few slips) to feel like a collection of weird Seventies-stylised movie title sequences and film company logos, and anything with this amount of typographical fun simply has to be wonderful.

You may or may not like it – but the video is something to behold. Enjoy…

Attack of the Disco Indians

Just found this on Making Light – a quite terrifying cover version of 50’s surfer anthem ‘Apache’ apparently from Danish pop king Tommy Seebach. It starts wrong, and then proceeds into a whole new universe of wrongness.

My eyes! It burnssss!!!!!

And I leave you with a Making Light quote:

If the War on Drugs people had a lick of sense, they’d buy up the rights and reissue it with THIS IS WHAT A PERMISSIVE DRUG CULTURE WILL DO TO YOU neatly lettered at the top of the screen.