Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A Good Month. Aye!

We have happened upon an almost unknown occurrence. January has become one of the best months I've know for years in terms of completely amazing albums being released! Maybe this has happened before and I don't remember, or maybe I'm just so numb from December's stillbirth output that I'm over-excited by good music coming out... I'm not sure. Either way, it's a breath of fresh air and VERY welcome.

Albums you must buy:

Gruff Rhys - 'Candylion'
(ex-Super Furry Animals front man goes all mellow and acoustic, easily the best thing I've heard in ages)

The Shins - 'Wincing The Night Away'
(following a supposedly "lacklustre 2nd album" that is amazing, this new album is incredible and possibly fulfills Natalie Portman's promise that this band "will change your life")

The Good The Bad & The Queen
(Damon Albarn proves he doesn't know how to make a bad album. Simply sublime)

Bloc Party - 'A Weekend In The City'
(fed up with indie bands playing boring music with no meaning? Well thank god for the only indie band out there making dark pop music about socialist and political issues. A huge step forward for the only NME band worth paying attention to)

Alphino - 'Lens Flare'
(it's great, you should buy it NOW)

Album to avoid: The View - 'Hats Off To The Buskers'
(remember what I said about boring NME indie bands that play predictable songs with generic meanings? This is the prime example of that. No point to this band whatsoever, you'll be bored to tears by track 3)

PS: For those wondering what the hell was with my last 2 blogs, stay patient as the 3rd and final part of the story is coming soon!

PPS: For those that want the Cap'n Jack Pirates 3 wallpaper without my title across it then here it is...

Monday, January 29, 2007

How Did You Do?

Sweet nerves, it's good to hear from you. You left us all tottering on a lethal brink. With flames raging inside us, at what point do we declare you lost? Falling is the first test, and we all agree you passed admirably. Consider this Part One completed. And yet why do we have nothing to say for ourselves, surely this is your command now? Are we too far gone to admit even a small victory, or would imply we burn like no other? Questions, questions, nerves... it's clear your mission isn't finished yet.

Wade into the bile you try to hide, make it compatible with heartless souls, make us proud and bridge the gap. Make it something. Hovering is stammering, we should be in the clouds by now. And yet Sunday won't let it be, we haven't yet deserved it. Don't you fret, someday we'll make it and you'll get all those shows back. Not the same ones, you fool, smaller and better ones....

Don't you believe me? Are you still there? Remember to stay away from those cages... Nerves? Do you hear me?... Stay away from the cages!... Nerves?....


Saturday, January 27, 2007

What's The Plural On That?

Settle down, nerves. The time will come. Emancipation is trying to rear it's head, yet strangely denied from the closest sources. All that you've lived for is in this moment, is it going to take something so minute in detail and thought to drag you back down? Is that all you make of it? Given all the shows you've let drift into the background, or let slip through a gently clasped fist, there will be a time for fruition. There has to be that, surely?

Bad thoughts can permeate, and hold you to the floor, until nothing more than a sodden sponge remains. Waiting to dry out once more. Wanting to fly. We're not quite airborne yet, but we're gently hovering, an inch or two from obscurity. A scald hurts for a time, but slowly heals to leave nothing but a scar. How many scars does it take before no one can recognise you anymore? I think we've got a few more left in us, but just because we can become unknown and bounce back from it... does that mean we should?

Questions abound as we invent words that sound like they should exist. Demnity be damned, you're mine now, and I look forward to seeing you quiver with excitement on the eve of your first mission. You'll do fine, just avoid the cages and roam free - we're hovering, remember, it'll take more than a cage to stop you.

Blood seems to be running thinner these days, some days too thin to keep the engine going. But fumes can be as good as fuel, if the intent is pure, and you hold steady to what you know. And maybe an idea is enough to get you through. And we'll burn bright at the endgame, because although we didn't reach the finish line, we stayed the course.

Friday, January 19, 2007

For The Restless

Been a strange week, filled with more ups and downs, more highs and lows than I can remember for a long while. Our album 'Lens Flare' came out this week. After over a year of hard work writing, recording and designing, we were finally done. We had a whole massive box of shiny brand new CDs ready to go, which is something I never thought I'd see. And people were excited about it, not just our friends but new fans we'd made abroad as well (and I say this in disbelief, as I don't think either myself or James imagined ever having people we didn't know order the album from overseas). More than anything I wanted to enjoy this.

And for a day I did. The day after the album was done, James and the amazing Jonster got our website up to speed so people could buy the album at a simple click of a button. It looks amazing, so check it out HERE.

I was meant to be at the website meeting, but had been hit by a coldy thing and then had to work.

The next day I don't remember a lot of, except drifting in and out of shouty sleep and having a face that felt 20 feet wide with roadworks going on inside it, and no voice to speak of (so to say).

The next day (today) I physically could not leave my bed before 4pm (I tried once and bashed my ribs pretty good), and still had no voice. By 7pm I was feeling better-ish, and all my friends were going out for the evening. I knew there was no way I could drink as I'd not eaten for 3 days straight and was on anti-biotics, and more than a sip of water every hour brought on the vom. But still I thought it might do me good. Alas the weather was shit, so I thought a 20-minute walk in torrential wind and rain might set my recovery back a few days.

Tomorrow I am working, and I'll be fine for that, but certainly in no mood for the pub afterwards.

So, absolutely elated about the album release this week, something our friends have been waiting a while for now. Could not be more happy. And totally devastated that I won't be able to see my friends and be there when they get a copy. This is selfish and I know it, it doesn't matter if I'm there or not... Like I said, conflicted...

UPDATED: Went to the pub after finishing work in the end... and had a great time... and don't even get me started on Dirky Dancing!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Scarfs for Giraffes

It's finally happened! The day has arrived. I held out resistance for many years, secretly knowing it was a lost cause, but - in the words of Martika - no longer can I can deny. Yes, I, Alphiano, have become addicted to a reality TV telly show!

And it's not Celebrity Big Brother.

'Beauty And the Geek' sounds just like the sort of dreadful American trash they seem to vomit out at a stomach-churning rate. On paper, this is no different. In fact, the no-brainer concept makes it seem worse just for being so bloody obvious: 8 geeky losers team up with 8 vapid beauties to win a competition and "learn new things about themselves" along the way.

Sounds god-awful, doesn't it? You can't even justify it on it's self-imposed 'mission statement' of being a social experiment. The geeks are not relatively normal guys that have little or no social skills, and the girls are not attractive women who happen to not be that well-read.

No, the producers have gone out of their way to find the most cliched, hideous and laughable freaks on god's green earth. You can tell the geeks are geeks because they ALL wear glasses, dress funny, and one of them likes Star Trek. You can tell the beauties are bimbos because they all dress in skimpy outfits, have massive breasts, and are more concerned about their tans than current affairs.

And herein lies the innate brilliance of the show, though I don't think it knows it. With ridiculously over-the-top, cartoonish characters and stupid situations it's more of a sitcom than a reality telly show. And, damn, it's good telly!

If you'd like to see a weedy nerd with a fear of public speaking try to perform a stand-up routine (which he attempts by constantly swearing at the audience), or if the idea of a blonde airhead breaking into tears because she can't work out the library's dewey-decimal system appeals to you....

You'll be in telly heaven!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Slippers for Nippers

A new year, another week, and another celebrity media broohaha. No I'm not referring to the current Big Brother featuring Mr Slick himself, the uber-cool and ever so tidy Dirk Benedict, who is currently the only reason to watch the show. No, the news that's grabbed and angered me can be summed up in two words: Kate Middleton.

First off, and this is my main cause for anger, this is not celebrity news and yet is being treated as such. I don't have a huge hankering for celeb gossip anyway, but if you're going to run celeb news as 'celeb news' then at least make sure you focus on an actual celebrity. Kate Middleton is NOT a celebrity. She just happens to be a girl who happens to go out with someone who happens to be in the royal family (not like he had a choice in that matter). Nothing more. Has she done anything of note in her life to warrant all this attention? No, of course not, and I'm not suggesting she has to. Maybe she's happy with a nonplus life of uni, mates and pub like the rest of us, in which case good on her.

But why has this media attention around her reached fever pitch, to the point of a lawsuit being initiated to ban all use of paparazzi photos of her in newspapers? There are two sides to this coin, and I don't like either of them. Firstly, the actual lawsuit banning paparazzi shots became a bigger story than the paparazzi hounding itself. The day after the lawsuit was announced there were twice as many reporters outside her house, only there to see how many paparazzi would show up outside her house (four, apparently). Can no one else see the lunacy in this? The newspapers were full of almost identical stories on which OTHER newspapers were running stories/photos of Kate Middleton. I'm sorry, I realise we live in a world obsessed with pseudo-celebrities, but this is sheer madness, and completely arbitrary to the point of the lawsuit. The reverse effect this had can best be summed up by TV's 'Titty Bang Bang' - "Don't Look At Me! Don't Look At Me!"

I'm not naive as to how these things work, but Miss Middleton clearly is. She's dating, and will probably marry, a member of the ROYAL FAMILY. It's conceivable that one day she will be the QUEEN OF ENGLAND! What exactly did she think would happen?! Did she really expect the media to leave her alone? She made her choices, and then got all stroppy and legal on people when she didn't like it. Ahhh, poor Kate, must be tough being rich and privileged.

I don't have an opinion on Prince William either way, he seems alright but has never done anything to offend or impress me. But I've already decided that, if this goes the course we all expect it to, I don't like the next Queen. Bit of a whiny cow, if you ask me. Jesus, if she's this pissed off with the attention she's getting for just being his girlfriend, what the hell's she gonna do if and when she becomes Queen? Ban all tourists from taking photos of Buckingham Palace? Cancel Christmas because she doesn't want Wills to do the speech? Replace the person on the stamps because she wants to be left alone (no doubt with someone like Robbie Williams or Chris Martin)?

God save the Queen? God help her, more like.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Monkeys for Junkies

So, today I lost a part of my body. A tooth, to be exact. It wasn't through choice, I'll have you know. I didn't wake up, look in the mirror and say "The inside of my mouth could be a little slimmer". No, it was stolen from me. Stolen by mother nature, that filthy sick bitch!

About a week or so back two new wisdom teeth started to rage their way through the tissue of my gums, like icebergs piercing a cruise liner - except with teeth and gums. It wasn't welcome, and not really necessary as my mouth seems to have been doing fine for 27 years without these new additions. Was I not chewing fast enough? Did my body feel an introduction of 2 new students into the Tooth Club was needed in this modern society of integration? Helpfully, I had no say in this matter, nor was I even invited to committee meeting.

And so, after a week of pain (which I can only assume was the old teeth bullying the new teeth), an outsider took matters into his own hands and removed one of the offenders from the club. Ironically, it was an old member of the club, not these new arrivals, that got displaced. And now everything hurts and I can't feel half my face.

So what have we learnt from this badly-shrouded metaphor, kids? Bullying is bad. And wisdom teeth hurt like a fucking cunt.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Pyjamas for Llamas

On the back of my recent Bond obsession, I thought it only prudent to share with you one of the most AWFUL THINGS I've ever seen. Yes, Ian's Useless Movie Reviews are back! This time...


Oh, Pierce, it all started so well! Goldeneye was ace (my 3rd favourite Bond film of all time), but then things started getting progressivly more poo until this skidmark of a movie appeared. Die Another Day is a tricky creature, as for a horrible film it actually has many remarkably excellent qualities, but the bad stuff is SO bad it quickly erases all that. I could go into detail, but I can't be arsed, so let's just do a list shall we?

OPENING SEQUENCE: We all know the score with Bond films. There's a pre-credits action sequence where Bond narrowly saves the day, then cue the theme song and naked ladies. Not so here. In this pre-credit sequence there's the usual action scene - except Bond fails and gets captured. And instead of girls swimming in champagne glasses or whatever, the credit sequence shows Bond being interrogated and tortured for 14 months. A truly great and gritty step forward in the franchise (one that would eventually lead to the amazing Casino Royale), but they couldn't keep that inspiration up.

ACTION: The action in this film is amazing, and unlike anything you've seen in a Bond film before - hell, any film before! Simply stunning. However, this is only down to the director of photography and the editor. It looks incredible, but that's it, as the story and film-maker let you down terribly. If you'd have read the script and saw 'invisible car races through ice palace' you'd have been right to be pissed off.

PIERCE: Despite going out on a turd of a swansong, Pierce showed here he really had the character nailed... at least the character his films had determined. For these kinds of Bond movies he was spot-on, it's just a shame that nearly all of the movies were rubbish. They started wanting Sean Connery, and degraded to sub-Roger Moore territory. However, for his part, Pierce did himself and character proud.

BAD STUFF: (jesus, where to start?!)

HALLE: Halle Berry should not be acting. At all. Except maybe in a fantasy or action film where she has to do nothing more than look pretty and say cheesy dialogue. Maybe like a Bond or X-Men film? NO! She's rubbish even in this piece of garbage.

INVISIBLE CAR: We know the franchise has to push the boundaries, but in the past they made a point of making all the Bond gadgets actually work in real life. The jetpack worked, the keyring bomb worked. But an INVISIBLE CAR???!!!! This is the point the franchise lost all respect.

ICE PALACE: Not only a stupid idea that serves no point to the story, but also obviously an incredible waste of money. There was, literally, NO POINT in having the last part of the movie play out here. Seriously, try and find one reason!

MADDONA: I'm not even going to mention her god-awful theme song (there's been some stinkers in the past, and yet this was the worst and totally out of place with the whole universe), but also her completely pointless cameo as a fencing intructor who NEVER FENCES OR INTRUCTS!!! There's a reason Bond extras are normally nobodies, or people who have a PURPOSE being in the film. I'm not kidding, she says "hello" to Bond, then introduces him to the baddie. Couldn't he have done that himself? She has no point at all, and by being Madonna she takes you out of whatever suspension of disbelief you may have had.

THE BADDIES: Jesus fucking Christ! The barrel has been scraped and thrown away, at this point they're just throwing barrel residue into the mix and crossing their fingers. Cliched Asian baddie - put some diamonds in his face and as long as he can kick don't worry if he can't act. Female baddie: Make her an MI6 agent that Bond DOESN'T KNOW ABOUT (was he off for the 3 years she's been at the same company as him?) and give her a name like Frost so everyone thinks her stiff delivery is on purpose. Main baddie: Short weedy Brit who smiles like Rik Mayall, so give him a Robot Suit so he stands a chance against an unarmed Bond at the finale (a FUCKING ROBOT SUIT!!!). I've seen student films with better characterisations than this.

BAD BAD BAD BAD BAD CGI: It's a tool, and has helped a lot of films. Who can forget the T-Rex attack in Jurassic Park, or the battles in Independence Day? Whatever you think of those films, those sequences worked and helped the story. And somehow, some TWELVE YEARS LATER we're seeing a poorly rendered CGI Bond surfing a wave. 1 - it's 12 years later, isn't technology supposed to get better? 2 - Bond is surfing, which is rubbish. 3 - Bond films are about STUNTS, not CGI. If they could get a real guy skiing an avalanche in 1983, how hard is it to get someone surfing a wave in 2002?

The first 40 minutes of this film are great (Bond captured, tortured and then going rogue). But as soon as the invisible car arrives, turn the fucker off. It's a shame for Pierce as he did stellar work in his run as Bond, despite the scripts, and he remains my 3rd favourite Bond. The only saving grace of Die Another Day is that it prompted the re-boot that become the sensational - and true adaptation - Casino Royale.

1.9 Crabs out of 5

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Ribbons for Gibbons

Although nothing terribly horrid happened to me in 2006, I can't help but find myself breathing a steady sigh of relief to see the back of it. In all reality, if you were to weigh the pros and cons and quote Tori Amos, it was a pretty good year which saw the return of an old friend, more fancy dress parties than you could shake a sonic screwdriver at, making an album, and two - yes, TWO - new silver snazz machines (I must confess I somewhat miss the subtle clickety-click of my laptop keys, but the almighty kerchunk of my new return key more than makes amends).

With such blessings befalling me, and only a few minor gripes, I suspect my enthusiasm to be rid of 2006 comes more from an actual excitement for what 2007 may bring. Yes, for the first time since I can remember I face the new year with a sense of hope and optimism. At least I think it's optimism, it's been a while. Mysteries I hope to solve in the next 12 months so far include:

'Why hasn't Simon Amstell been given a knighthood yet?'

'Are you on the list?'

'What, precisely, is the difference between a shark and the ghost of a shark?'

and 'What do angels smell like?'

Now if you'll excuse me, since seeing the stupidly great Casino Royale I've been on a Bond marathon of old and recent films alike. So far the update is this: The Living Daylights is mega and Timothy Dalton was a great Bond (not bobbins like you might remember), and yes The World Is Not Enough is easily as coma-inducing as you probably do remember.