Monday, November 27, 2006

Albums Of The Year: The Also-Rans

It's nearly time to deliver my Top 5 albums of the year. It's been especially difficult this year to select a top 5, not because of the high quality of the albums put out, in fact quite the opposite. I've had to search long and hard to find anything that impressive... and luckily, my oh my, some gems were found.

Of course, to narrow it down to my favourite 5 (each of which will get their own blog soon) means that there were some that almost made it, but sadly didn't - and yet they still deserve your attention. Here are the also-rans...

THE VINES - 'Vision Valley' (10)
The Vines have come back from insanity and a genuinely ill front-man to present a killer back-to-basics album that reminds us why we loved them in the first place. 'Take Me Back' shows an incredible amount of songwriting growth, and the whole thing screams "we like making music again". A warm welcome back to the silly gazzahs.

GIANT DRAG - 'Hearts And Unicorns' (9)

An amazing album of lo-fi drums and electric guitars (the kind The White Stripes would make if they were any good), riddled with searing riffs and poisonous lyrics - such as the dynamite 'you fuck like my dad'. This nearly made it, but a couple of lacklustre tracks (such as an awful cover of Chris Isaac's 'Wicked Game') just kept it outside the top5.

TV ON THE RADIO - 'Return To Cookie Mountain' (8)

Almost worth admission for the album title alone. This was nearly a contender for one song alone - which, for my money, is nearly the track of the year - 'I Was A Lover'. Hearing that song should be a law. Again, a couple of not-so-good songs smothered in techno-wankery (despite David Bowie) lowered this otherwise excellent album just outside the 5.

TOM WAITS - 'Orphans: Bawlers, Brawlers and Bastards' (7)

If this list was just about album titles then Tom would win. A 3-disc, 56-track marathon, any other artist would crumble under the pressure of such a prolific release. But this is Tom Waits. Eccentric and original. His voice is the key; if you like it you'll love the album, if you don't you won't get past track 3. I'm in the former catagory. This is a staggering series of work that only misses out because, no matter how eccentric you are, and how much of the material is pure gold, with so many songs there's going to be a few rough diamonds. Was very tempted to include him solely on the bravery of this endeavour.

BRIGHT EYES - 'Digital Ash In A Digital Urn' (6)
An absolutely stunning album, combining Connor Oberst's traditional folk/blues songwriting with digitised beats and rythms. Shouldn't work but it does. This would have been number 1 for sure, but unfortunately it was released last year and I only discovered it a few months ago. Which makes it completely my fault. Sorry, Connor!

Top 5 Coming Soon...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Unknown Pixies

This has been a good day. In stark contrast to yesterday which involved scummy chavs stealing a bottle - nay, a magnum - of champagne, and then consequent hours of police phone calls and feeling extremely pissed off. The thing is, they stole the magnum cuz it was the biggest and they assumed it was the most expensive. It sells for £60. If they'd looked one shelf higher they'd have have seen the Dom Perignon and Krug, £100 a bottle. Despite the fact that we only keep dummy bottles of those on the shelf, I have reached a conclusion: Thieves are fucking stupid.

Dad is settled quite nicely in his new job. Before this one he was always pretty much a 9-5 man, weekends off etc. Now he's joined our lovely league of shiftwork, he seems to understand what we've been bitching about all these years. But it's great, and it finally feels like the family is clicking. For once all of us have something in common.

Relating to the title of this blog, I have a history of finding crushes and obsessing about them. Normally I do nothing about them. Once or twice I have, and they have ended in either rejection or being ignored. But I have a new one. I know nothing about her, not even her name, but her infrequent visits into my place of work light up my day. She is quite tiny, blonde, and pixie-like. I shall keep you posted on how this goes (bets labelled 'I bet he never talks to her' will be disregarded due to unfair insider information).

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Neileo & Katiecakes

On Thursday myself and Jaymz went to meet up with our old pal Neileo for a pint and catch-up. Neil is the man who offered Alphino one of our first ever support support slots some 4 years ago when we were just starting out. His band at the time, the much-missed The Morning, completely blew us away and we were mightily chuffed. This led to a friendship that has carried on to this day, through Neil's most recent (and excellent) band Little Green, and even to Neil taking up bass duties with full-band Alphino when Gus left for Uni (see piccy below on right).

It's been a while since we last saw him, and he arrived with his new missus Katie, who is an absolute joy and a complete nutter (but in the good way, as far as I know she's not killed any babies or anything). For larks and the like we decided to enter the pub quiz that was happening that night. Now, we recognised the quiz dude as the same one that does the quiz at our local in Ringwood, which I've competed in a few times and been rubbish, so we held little hope of being any good.

However, thanks to Katie's knowledge of... well, pretty much everything, and the rest of us going "yeah, that sounds right" we actually managed a quite respectable 21 out of 25. Not too shabby.

But it was in the music quiz subsection that we really triumphed. Given only a few seconds of random songs, and being asked to identify both artist and song title, I was more than shocked to find that with Neil's handling the dodgy R&B, me tackling the 80's gay pop, and Katie knowing the songs the rest of us were too embarrassed to admit to knowing (even though we didn't) WE WON! As Katie said, we knew our music and that was more important anyway. Truer words never spoken.

Our prize? A free bottle of wine from the bar. The catch? It had to be ordered before closing time that night. So with Jaymz and Neileo driving, myself and Katie decided to share a bottle of pink wine (much to Jaymz's annoyance - he loves the stuff). Not only that but she decided to pour as much as possible into the huge glasses provided, resulting in us both having half a bottle in a single glass!

It wasn't long before she was hammered and getting funnier by the second, but I don't mean that in a mean way, she was genuinely funny, and they make a really sweet couple. Good times. Was great to meet up with an old friend and make a new one.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Dr. Acula

I recently upgraded my blog account to the new blogger beta site, foolishly believing that an upgrade can only be a good thing. It listed so many groovy-sounding new features, like so many html carrots being dangles in my face that I blindly went ahead. However, so far the only feature I've discovered is the inability to comment on anyone's non-beta blog, or for them to comment on mine. So apologies if it looks like I'm ignoring you, it's just bloody blogger! The internet is rubbish.

On a happier note, and where the internet most definitely isn't rubbish, the brand spanky swanky new Alphino website is live!!! There's a couple of bugs to iron out with the domain name, even though we bloody own it, but the content is pretty much up to speed. Lovely new photos, singy-songs and info galore are now all there for you to enjoy! Spread the word, tell your friends, and send us any thoughts/feedback you have to

Ooh... not long til the album's out now (which, coincidently, you'll be able to buy through said new website)... just a bit longer!.....