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Archive for December, 2009

Christmas Catch-up: Television

Posted: December 31st, 2009, by Marceline Smith

Harry Hill’s TV Burp
I can’t select Top Gear for the 10th year running so I’ll opt for Harry Hill’s TV Burp. Laugh out loud funny and genuinely one of the most subversive things on TV. The close-up shot of a pre-vomit Harry with a layer of sweat on his head watching the River Cottage guy cut up a squid in a bath almost put me in hospital. (Chris Summerlin)

Masterchef: The Professionals
Some kind of cookery show, most probably Masterchef: The Professionals, would have to be my choice. Can’t get enough of cookery shows, they fill my head with ideas of recipes and dishes which I will never make. Raymond’s final choice of winner on this year’s The Restaurant was totally wrong, though. (Simon Minter)

Curb Your Enthusiasm
Consistently shows Larry David to be the less repressed, more socially inept Me. Having had a fair bit of attention already on diskant, the latest season is pretty dark and the coincidences coincide too obviously, but this is still classic Curb. With women’s underwear, kiddie lemonade and piss stains on Jesus. (Pascal Ansell)

In the last six months I have managed to squeeze out all six seasons of Entourage and I really am in awe of the feel good affect that this show possesses. I guess I allowed the show to pass by me for six seasons due to the fact that for face value the characters are dicks and unlikable but once you get properly introduced to them (and the show) you suddenly realize that you are viewing the same kind of male team dynamic akin to that of Stand By Me, albeit a Hollywood version. There is a surprising amount of depth to this show and truly you begin to learn in great detail about the Hollywood system. Also in Jeremy Piven playing Ari Gold here is another antihero in the same vein as Malcolm Tucker, a character that any sensible reasoning dictates you should dislike but ultimately you secretly want to be like. (JGRAM)

Clearly, I have been on a JJ Abrams kick this year. S5 of LOST was AMAZING, managing to do time travel in a thrilling and hilarious manner while still making sense and building the mythology to the ultimate point of anticipation. The only thing stopping me from going insane waiting for the final season in February is that, well, it’s the final season and I don’t know what I’ll do without LOST. Fringe has become a reasonable stand-in though, becoming more preposterous by the week (alternate worlds! shapeshifters! Leonard Nimoy!) while John Noble as the mischievous mad scientist Walter Bishop steals every scene. Having been wallowing in Abrams’ previous series Alias recently, I worry that Fringe is going to topple into similar (entertaining) nonsense sometime soon, once they try and make sense of all the crazy cool stuff they’ve just been throwing at it, but we shall see. (Marceline Smith)

Christmas Catch-up: Fanzines & Magazines

Posted: December 31st, 2009, by Marceline Smith

Vice Magazine
The film issue of Vice Magazine in September was its best issue in years and served as a rare reminder of how it can be a very good read when it wants to be. Like a mug I paid the £35 for a subscription as issues in shops became rarer and rarer but I don’t think I’ll be renewing it when it runs out. (JGRAM)

Sight & Sound
It’s so densely written that each issue lasts for ages! (Simon Minter)

Classic & Sportscar
I got back into cars with a vengeance this year so I will have to select Classic & Sportscar. I like Classic Cars too but it’s a little dry and although Octane has some good photography the journalism reads like a GCSE project. C&S is still the best and when I want to while away several hours in the bath pondering whether an Alfa 1750GTV would suit me more than a Lancia Fulvia then I know where to turn. (Chris Summerlin)

Burn Collector #14 by Al Burian
I haven’t even read this yet (saving it for my train journey Up North this Christmas) but it’s printed as a tiny book and has extra comics so if it’s not awesome, I will eat my furry bear hat. (Marceline Smith)

Christmas Catch-up: Songs

Posted: December 30th, 2009, by Marceline Smith

Kid 606 – GQ on the EQ
Fantastic twiddling of them electronic nobs – this tune features pretty much one beat that never, ever wants to stay in one place. Cue one of the slickest, sweetest but messiest beats thinkable at 4.30. (Pascal Ansell)

The Knife – Heartbeats
A few years old I know but relevant this year for me (and La Roux too it would seem). I’m a sucker for pop music and especially pop music that uses bizarre composite parts to make a palatable whole and this perfectly sums that up. Every single sound on this single, when isolated, is horrible. From the “pom! pom!” drums to the cruddy synth to her whining vocals it should add up to a sizeable audio turd but instead it hangs together so perfectly and lumbers along so patiently as to warrant immediate replays. (Chris Summerlin)

Annie – I Don’t Like Your Band
Not the best song Annie has done, but it’s good that finally someone has managed to express those difficult emotions of going to see your mate’s new band and discovering they’re terrible. Though Annie’s advice of ditching those tedious guitars for a nice shiny synth is not without flaw – do we really need any more tedious synth bands? One to keep aside for your next passive-aggressive mixtape anyway. (Marceline Smith)

Andrew Douglas Rothbard – Wisely Wasted
Super lush electronic IDM psyche unlike anything else I’ve heard. I could listen to this song over and over again (and let’s face it, I have). The song as a whole is utterly fantastic but the point at about 3:30 where it stutters fucking blows my mind. Every time. (Justin Snow)

Fire by Jimi Hendrix then the Buff Medways then Lupe Fiasco
A few months ago I went through a weird phase where this song in various forms appeared to be following me around. First the original popped up in a pivotal moment in Entourage and with the appearance it blasted its way back into my consciousness. Next I came across a live version by the Buff Medways in the Billy Childish Is Dead documentary which I prompted hunted down on both seven inch studio version and a live XFM Buff Medways album. Then the strangest of all was a day or two later getting in my car to hear a bastardized version of the original on Zane Lowe’s Radio One show. Some rapper was now spitting all over the song and amazingly it didn’t sound awful. That was Lupe Fiasco. If you have never heard “Fire” by Hendrix where have you been? It is a wonderfully pounding and mesmerizing with heart stopping breaks and pauses before a pure swing shoots it off into the outer limits. If only all Hendrix songs had been as good as this. (JGRAM)

Goran Bregovic – Kalashnikov
Balkan madness. Just listen to it, listen to it, listen to it, NOW! (Pascal Ansell)

Rage Against The Machine – Killing In The Name
Having been comprehensively denounced by pals in the pub last night for not liking Rage Against The Machine’s ‘Killing In The Name’ [or whatever it’s actually called], it would have to be that song. Not because it’s my favourite, but because it’s my favourite use of a mediocre song in a bizarrely misguided herd-following load of cobblers that wasted a lot of everybody’s time at the end of this year. (Simon Minter)

Christmas Catch-up: Books

Posted: December 29th, 2009, by Marceline Smith

Mix tape by Thurston Moore
An interesting little investigation into the world of the home-recorded mixtape – a quick read perhaps, but a nice looking book with contributions from many interesting people. I like seeing what mixtapes the great and good from music and art have given to eachother, and how they’ve been packaged. Even your favourite supercool rock star has cut and pasted a crappy-looking tape cover together at some point in the past; you’re not the only one. (Simon Minter)

Hardcore – A Tribal History by Steven Blush
Honest and irreverent insight into a self-destructing scene and its glory years dating 1980-3. My prior knowledge of hardcore solely stemmed from Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1,2,3 and 4. Blush done learned me. (Pascal Ansell)

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes (Translated by Edith Bowman)
1000 initially daunting pages expertly given an accessible modern voice by Bowman.  I’ve still got a long way to go but the adventures of the man of la Mancha and his erstwhile squire are hugely entertaining to this day. (Alex McChesney)

The Death Of Bunny Munro by Nick Cave
No book this year proved as good as Bad Vibes by Luke Haines but that was my summer pick and I don’t want to repeat myself. The other book to leave a mark on me this year was unsurprisingly The Death Of Bunny Munro by Nick Cave. I don’t think I have ever seen a book get so much coverage in this way before and the manner in which it was presented to the public (hardback, seven disc atmospheric audiobook and iPhone application etc) really felt modern. The actual written content of the novel was OK, too self conscious but fun all the same. I’ve read Bukowski and in comparison Bunny Munro was almost a saint. The height of this book for me came when I attended a Q&A and reading hosted by David Peace and afterwards I managed to get Cave to sign my book who amongst other things told me that my old job sounded “fucking depressing.” It was a slice. (JGRAM)

The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan
Having got bored waiting for George RR Martin to finish the next Fire & Ice book, I found a bunch of these in a charity shop and dug in, not entirely aware that there were 11 books in the series and it wasn’t even finished yet. Or that Robert Jordan had died, leaving notes for someone else to finish it. I’ve found myself enjoying these far too much despite the growing realisation that he could have told the story in at least half the pages, if someone had edited out all the repetition and characters endlessly ruminating on NOTHING. I’m on Book 8 now and about 3 things have happened in 600 pages. It’s your typical ‘farmboy discovers he’s the chosen one and has to save the world from the dark one’ tale, but there’s enough unexpected and cool stuff going (and zero elves and dwarves) on that I keep at it. At the very least, buying a load of these at 1p each from Amazon has saved me a lot of money in proper books this year. (Marceline Smith)

Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
I got this as a gift for my wife. We both loved the movie Everything Is Illuminated (based on the book written by Foer) and when I saw this in a bookstore I thought we should give it a shot. I didn’t know it was one of those “Post 9/11” things. But it was. Is. If I had known that, I might not have bought it. But I got over that pretty quickly. The first two pages of this book are the best opening pages in any book I’ve ever read (read ’em on Amazon). It captures the essence of the book and the main character so fully and it’s absolutely hilarious. It starts on a high note, putting you in a good mood, so that by the time you get to the epically dismal parts you can handle it without turning into a sobbing little baby. What really makes this, though, is Foer’s writing style. His sense of humor and flow and control, even the physical spacing of text on the pages make Extremely Loud instantly one of my favorite books of all time. (Justin Snow)

Inspector Rebus series by Iain Rankin
I’m going to pick a series of books and that’s the Inspector Rebus series by Iain Rankin. I love me a good, easy to read detective novel and I’ve ploughed through about 9 of these in as many weeks. Rankin treads a line between trashy lightness and a genuine multi-layered complexity and it makes for addictive reading. His novels are heavy on characters and seemingly-unconnected plotlines and he reminds me of James Ellroy in that you could often use a character index to remind yourself who is who but it’s gripping stuff. It’s almost irrelevant whodunnit as the ride along the way is so pleasurable. (Chris Summerlin)

The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Incredible thriller from the late Swedish writer deserves the massive attention it gets. Dodgy financial dealings, sinister happenings plus lots and lots of cups of coffee. I miss reading this so much, mostly the little things: the main character’s routine: the constant coffee drinking, the open sandwiches and little walks. There are mind-blowing characters in this one – look out for the film next March! (Pascal Ansell)

Christmas Catch-up: Websites

Posted: December 28th, 2009, by Marceline Smith

I’m slowly getting my head around the value of Spotify, and now realise it’s the music/internet of Christmas presents. Things that you might never want to buy for yourself, but that you don’t begrudge having around for entertainment. I’m not sure that I believe it’s so much of a ‘try before you buy’ service, but I don’t think it’s about to stop me buying records. It’s just going to make me listen to more music. (Simon Minter)

Few would deny that the epoch of human culture is the television theme song.  While such tunes have mostly been phased out by revenue hungry TV executives desperate to squeeze a few more seconds for advertising, in the heyday of television music – arguably the 50s to 80s – theme songs were masterworks of musical minimalism, laying out the flavor and narrative of a TV show in a hummable ditty.  And because these songs are the backbone of civilization, one would rightly be concerned that if they were to fade away, society might descend into animalistic savagery.  That’s why we should all be thankful for the website televisiontunes.com which has a vast collection of TV theme songs from popular shows everyone remembers to bizarre obscurities.  (Were you even aware there was a “Weird Al Show”?) Your friends, family and employers may grow frustrated as you whittle away the hours of your life absorbing each of the masterpieces contained within the site, but you’ll be content knowing you have dedicated your life to studying important cultural artefacts. (Wil Forbis)

Answer Me This!
Answer Me This! once again proved one of the most solid and reliably funny podcasts and in July I had the great experience of being at the live recording of the 100th episode which then doubled up as a treat when I got to ask (bobble) the 1000th question of its history. (JGRAM)

Sweetly odd comics about the adventures of Beartato.  Part bear, part potato. Link. (Alex McChesney)

What I Wore Today (in Drawings)
A genius idea from illustrator Gemma Correll, basically a Flickr group where shy illustrators can post drawings of their daily outfits. It’s an ace flipside to the sometimes terrifying narcissism of the Wardrobe Remix photo groups – in general it seems illustrators are much more likely to mock themselves, pointing out their ink-stained clothing and unbrushed hair. You can see my submissions here. (Marceline Smith)

Screw the internet!
Get off the internet! (Chris Summerlin)

Christmas Catch-up: Gaming

Posted: December 27th, 2009, by Marceline Smith

Gridrunner Revolution (PC)
Jeff Minter’s last game “Space Giraffe” alienated as many players as it enchanted thanks to a steep initial difficulty curve and psychedelic visuals that took some time to become accustomed to.  Those who put in the effort found a rich and addictive re-invention of “Tempest”, but they were sadly too few in number.  At first glance, “Gridrunner Revolution” appears to be a step too far the in the other direction.  The latest in his “Gridrunner” series of abstract top-down shooters which dates back to the venerable Commodore Vic-20, all 200 levels of “Revolution” can be blasted through in a few hours by a skilled player, but that would be missing the point.  Playing the game to completion is one thing, but the point is to play it well, milking its complex scoring mechanic for all its worth.  It’s a pity then, that beyond beating your own score there was very little indication of what “well” actually meant.  Thankfully, a recent update has added online high-score tables, making it a different prospect indeed.  If you own a reasonably modern PC and like to see things explode in pretty colours, you owe it to yourself to get over to llamasoft.co.uk and buy a copy.  (Alex McChesney)

Scrabble DS
I am in the unfortunate situation of being part of a family who are really, annoyingly, good at Scrabble, whereas I am just adequate. Playing with them is pretty much torture as they play all those stupid Scrabble words and never open up the triple word score spaces. Thus I have been enjoying Scrabble DS for two reasons – 1) I can play against ‘Arnold’, a slab-faced blockhead who probably can’t spell his own name correctly and will happily leave a triple word score open for two rounds, and 2) there are no penalties for attempting to play non-words, which means I have discovered a whole plethora of new, stupid, unbelievable words (and their definitions!) by just randomly trying out combinations when stuck. I only gave up playing this when I unlocked the final character and discovered it was a living Scrabble tile with a worrying expression. No way was I playing against that. (Marceline Smith)

Dead Rising (Xbox)
Haven’t done much of it this year, but thoroughly enjoyed my time with  Dead Rising on the Xbox. Admittedly I’m a latecomer to it, but it’s DAWN OF THE DEAD THE VIDEO GAME. They should just have put a big sticker with that on it all over the front and it’d have sold more copies. You can mow down zombies with lawnmowers and chainsaws and giant lipstick cases, and it judges the shambling, stupid but inevitably crushing waves of zombies really well. (Stuart Fowkes)

Guitar Hero
Once more my computer gaming experience did not get much further than Guitar Hero, the victorious culmination of which came during the recent ATP and while The Mars Volta were playing in the background I found myself rocking out to “Sunshine Of Your Love” on the arcade version. (JGRAM)

Possibly that was my choice last year, too. (Simon Minter)

So simple. Only one key is used (space bar). The goal is to keep running as long as possible. You run on top of and through buildings while some giant alien robots chase you. It looks great, it sounds great. There really is nothing more to it. I can’t remember the last time I was so addicted to a game, let alone one played in a web browser. Just remember, you can always run farther. Link (Justin Snow)

Left For Dead
I am not one for computer games but the speed with which technology moves blew my mind earlier this year when up in Glasgow. After finishing a band practise, 2 of our troop parted with the words “I’ll speak to you in a bit” and I thought to myself, “wow, these guys are tight. They’re going to call each other up for a chat after practise!”. Nope. They meant they were going to strap on headsets and mics and blow living shit out of (quite racially suspect it has to be said) zombies in Left For Dead. Turns out most of the indie musicians in Scotland can be found doing the same after 11pm at night. Not for me though, I get motion sickness. (Chris Summerlin)

Christmas Catch-up: Films

Posted: December 26th, 2009, by Marceline Smith

At once a beautiful (mostly) CGI-free homage to the thoughtful sci-fi of the Sixties and Seventies and a series of curveballs intended to keep aficionados of the same on their toes.  Duncan Jones has proven himself to be a talent to watch, and Sam Rockwell’s performance as a lonely lunar miner about to come to the end of his contract is a career best. (Alex McChesney)

I really enjoyed Duncan Jones’ Moon, a film less about science fiction than about loneliness and what it means to be a human being. (Chris Summerlin)

Judging by current Cinema, the two most popular movie monsters these days are vampires and zombies.  My distaste for vampires is well-known, but I’ve always had a certain deep-seated affection for the cannibalistic consumer of brains and flesh known as the zombie.  Perhaps it’s because I, stumbling aimlessly through life, often feel like a zombie.  Regardless, I’ve eagerly lapped up the cinema exploits of zombies for years, from George Romero’s classic ‘… Dead’ trilogy, to their reinvention in the hands of recently deceased director Dan O’Bannon’s ‘Return of the Living Dead’, to more modern interpretations such as the stupendous horror/farce ‘Shaun of the Dead’. In recent years, however, even I’ve gotten a little tired of zombies.  We all know the routine – some military experiment goes awry or some strange disease spreads across the land and pretty soon the dead are clawing their way out of the grave to rip open people’s bellies and chew on their entrails.  Because of this, I almost didn’t even bother to see ‘Zombieland’.  This would have been a great personal loss.  While I won’t go as far as a friend of mine who claimed it to be the greatest of all zombie movies, ‘Zombieland’ is pretty damn good.  Part of its success is the fact that it presumes its audience is familiar with the zombie mythos – it doesn’t even bother with setting up the zombie apocalypse; out of the gate we land right in the middle of the human/zombie battle sure to soon be raging on our streets.  From there the movie mixes together a clever combination of intriguing characters (Jesse Eisenberg’s ‘Columbus’ is like a young Woody Allen caught in a zombie Holocaust), snappy dialogue and plenty of blood and gore.  On top of all that, the female lead is my most recent cinema crush, Emma Stone.  Such enticing ingredients combined with a great cameo appearance by Bill Murray, are enough to make you forget all about those ‘Twilight’ vamps. (Wil Forbis)

The Hangover
Nothing stands out. The Hangover was good, childish fun though. (Simon Minter)

Shanghai Kiss
I rent DVDs from LoveFilm and they have always been awesome at sending me stuff from the top of my list but for some reason they’ve gone a bit mental lately and have sent me random things from way down. I was initially a bit unhappy about this but it turned out good as this is now one of my new favourite films. It’s basically a Lost in Translation for China but with half an American high school movie thrown in and Miles from LOST. I love teenage high school movies, I love China and I love Ken Leung so hurrah. It’s actually adorable – you should see it. (Marceline Smith)

The Dirty Three
I also heartily recommend the DVD documentary on the Dirty Three even though it came out some time ago. It’s a little heavily weighted towards recent footage (understandably because no one gave a shit enough to film them at the start) but it’s a wonderful tale. (Chris Summerlin)

Paranormal Activity
Among the constant flow of Hostel sequels and shitty Michael Bay remakes, a proper, old-school  – and excellent – horror. Hurrah for that. Paranormal Activity is basically the movie equivalent of a rollercoaster ride, and I’ve never seen a cinema audience so nervy watching a film. It’s expertly, artfully crafted, observing the conventions of the genre when it needs to, and subverting them when it feels like it. The pace is excellent, the characters wholly believable and it understands that the best horror always takes place off the screen. (Stuart Fowkes)

In The Loop
This has been an amazing year for movies but the one I have watched over and over has been In The Loop which also gives me the opportunity to crowbar some gushing about The Thick Of It into this entry. Basically I wish I was Malcolm Tucker, fearless and seemingly without conscience, a man so focused on his aims he appears to suffer no remorse at the hands of fools. If only I could be so single-minded. Even better though his language and swearing is a pure symphony of poetic bile. This was a movie and TV show that required much concentration to which the rewards felt almost infinite as an edutainment tool. Now just don’t get Toby and Olly mixed up. (JGRAM)

World’s Greatest Dad
You’ve seen Death To Smoochy, right? The last truly good Robin Williams movie? Well, I have good news. There’s a new black comedy starring Robin Williams and it’s a bazillion times better than Death To Smoochy. Crazy, I know. And even crazier is that it’s written and directed by Bobcat Goldthwait. It’s about Williams who plays a single father attempting to be a published author with a teenage son (played by Daryl Sabara, the curly haired redhead from those Spy Kids movies) who is into any and every kind of crazy ass fetish porn, and the two of them have some, to put it lightly, relationship issues. Actually, the problem is that they’re both huge ass holes. Watching Williams being such a prick is so entertaining. I honestly can’t remember the last time I laughed so long and hard (yup) when watching a movie. I literally had to rewind it a least a dozen times to catch new jokes that I missed while laughing at the old ones. There are some pretty serious parts, though. At times, it’s just fucking tragic. But I applaud the movie that makes me laugh my ass off at the most horribly depressing things. Which might be the reason World’s Greatest Dad slipped by relatively unnoticed. It is truly unique in it’s comedy darkness. My guess is not everyone can handle that sort of humor. But I’m sure most of you can. Especially since there weren’t too many truly fantastic movies this year (only Star Trek and Crank 2 immediately come to mind). And for one of them to have such a strong performance from an increasingly shitty actor makes me so happy. I can’t think of a single reason not to see this movie. (Justin Snow)

Christmas Catch-up: Records

Posted: December 24th, 2009, by Marceline Smith

Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion
A world in which Animal Collective get played on the radio and in trendy clothing stores may seem to be a bizarre, topsy-turvy one, but they’ve always had great tunes. It’s just now they’ve learned how to calibrate them to be heard by human ears. (Alex McChesney)

Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion
Predictable. But yeah, this’ll basically be the top of everyone’s album of the year charts, right? Since it’s obviously the best thing released this year and quite probably one of the best records of the decade. If you’ve not heard it, it’s bloody astonishingly brilliant. (Stuart Fowkes)

Sonic Youth – The Eternal
Oh I don’t know, it’s so difficult to remember, especially as my listening habits seem to ping between brand new releases and old records with no degree of logic, and my stringent listen-twice-then-file-for-now policy on records forces a certain lack of ongoing appreciation. I might suggest Sonic Youth’s The Eternal but only because it’s the first thing that springs to mind. I did enjoy the fact that it came on vinyl with another live album included for free, though. And the fact that it’s very good. (Simon Minter)

Boban Markovi? Orkestar – Boban & Marko: Balkan Brass Fest
Serbia’s finest gypsy brass ensemble with 14 arse-kicking tracks, stuffed with rich brass and silly melodies. Have a listen, go on… I know it’s very cool right now to like the Balkan stuff but this trend is justified! Just like Nu Rave. (Pascal Ansell)

The Jesus Lizard – reunion shows
If I’m honest the recordings that have given me most joy this year have been the Chunklet live recordings of The Jesus Lizard reunion shows. To date I believe there have been four including the first set at All Tomorrows Parties. This band’s return surpassed all expectations and absolutely nobody anywhere leads a band quite the way that David Yow does. He is the one remaining badass in rock music. Worship him while you still can (JGRAM)

The Organ – Thieves
The discovery that there was a whole extra EP by The Organ that I didn’t own was certainly an exciting day for me. I fell instantly in love with The Organ when my band supported them several aeons ago and was hugely disappointed by their break-up. This EP is somehow even better than their album, capturing everything good about their sound (and indeed, the entirety of late 80s indie) in six songs. From Katie’s soaring, melancholy vocals to the post-Smiths jangly guitars and warm retro keyboards, it would be a total delight, if it wasn’t so heart-wrenchingly sad. (Marceline Smith)

Dan Deacon – Bromst
I fell in love with Spiderman Of The Rings when it came out. I’m sure I’m not alone on that one. And I had a hard time believing Dan Deacon could make anything better. But holy shit Bromst is absolute euphoria. It came out in March and I still listen to it more than almost any other record that came out this year. Every time I listen to it, I almost expect to be slightly let down by it. I’ve put it so high up on a pedestal that when I actually take a minute and think about it, I’m like “There’s no way the Bromst in my head is anyway near as good as the real Bromst.” But it is. It fucking is. (Justin Snow)

Mos Def –  The Ecstatic
Get a tin, label it ‘The Ecstatic’ and you’ve got precisely that. An unbeatable album from Mos Def that ticks aaaaaall the boxes: ever lyric, beat and sample is top-notch. Mos Def chants those ‘sit-up and listen’ lines, very often so too real it evades instant gratification: “I speak it so clearly sometimes you don’t hear me“. Auditorium’ (featuring Slick Rick) remains the anthem to my insomnia, you can find it here. (Pascal Ansell)

Obits – I Blame You
Seeing Obits play to a room of 70 people this year threw up some interesting debates about the bizarre reformation-craze that is strangling the culture of a generation stone dead. If Rick Froberg had come through town with a reformed Drive Like Jehu there would have been 700 people there I am sure. That’s crazy: you’re making music that is relevant to you now and is honest to you now like you always did and people want you to go back 10, 20 years and play music from a different time and to deliver it with the honesty and integrity that you made it with and made those people like it in the first place. It’s almost like people are having some kind of collective panic attack as they hit the next decade of their lives and are seeking solace in the cultural reference points of a time pre-internet or when they lived with their parents and life was easier. I Blame You sounds fresh and exciting to my ears. It’s a blast of garagey rock and roll and trashy aesthetics and importantly it’s got some killer tunes on it. It taps into a rediscovered liking for simpler and more direct music to such a degree that, coming from someone who is in part responsible for many shitty math rock bands, it’s almost a political statement. If you like old long-gone bands and you like and trust the people involved then dig into what they do now, don’t sit at home wanting to recreate a time gone by because you’ll only want a reunion of what they do now in 10 years time because you missed it this time round. (Chris Summerlin)

Christmas Catch-up!

Posted: December 23rd, 2009, by Marceline Smith

It’s not been the busiest year here at diskant but I hope you’ve enjoyed our writings. Instead of a failed attempt at any kind of end of year (or, god forbid, end of decade) poll, we’ve decided just to celebrate the fact that none of us listen to the same records and do a series of catch-up posts. Starting tomorrow, you can tune in here at 10am every day (except Christmas Day and New Year’s Day – go and like, have some fun in real life!) to find out what records, films, books games, TV etc. has been thrilling us this year.

Now that I have an iPhone (woo!) and a WordPress app, I might actually start posting more regularly. You have been warned.

Thanks for continuing to visit diskant, and Merry Christmas!

KUNT AND THE GANG – Xmas 2009 EP (CD, Disco Minge)

Posted: December 20th, 2009, by JGRAM

With all this festive talk of Rage Against The Machine versus Simon Cowell for the Christmas number one this really should be a time to reflect on what is important in the music industry, of what is pure and decent and away from all these Sony promoted monsters, of what is independent in spirit and ultimately more deserving of being played at the end of the Christmas Top Of The Pops just because it celebrates what is in earnest the happiest time of the year.

More in keeping with Fairy Tale Of New York and (Here It Is) Merry Christmas than the two pieces of shit whoring their way to the top of the charts, Kunt And The Gang is here to save Christmas music for everyone with a crass sincerity that should make X-Factor, Rage Against The Machine and Sony all bow their heads in shame.

This is not the first time I have championed Kunt And The Gang on these fine pages and at this rate it will not be the last.  Once you get past the blunt and puerile humour that fuels these songs things suddenly click into place as the tunes remain fixed in your head and his pop claws dig in.  The premise is simple, this guy is John Shuttleworth mixed with Wesley Willis reading from the pages of Viz all packaged in a wonderfully Essex manner.  For such foul mouthed content the songs are surprisingly upbeat, positive and happily despite the language despatched and involved not in the least aggressive.  Forget raging against the machine, forget being a wet lad covering Miley Cyrus – this is where the real fun in music is come Christmas.

OK, so the sentiments of wishing your neighbour a kuntish Christmas on “Kuntish Christmas” after he borrows and breaks your Strimmer are perhaps a bit negative but schadenfreude rocks in the right context.  Likewise referring to Mary’s snatch as a “sausage wallet” on “Jesus (Baby With A Beard)” is actually quite testing to the senses, exceptional both in the offensive and creativity stakes.

The closer is “Santa’s Sack” which features the tale of Kunt as a child discovering Santa Claus having sex with his Grandma, a song that more than once features the word “disturbed.”  Very apt.

This is as far removed from Scrooge and The Stooges as you can get.  Where’s me jumper?

Merry Christmas!

Thesaurus moment: chuckles.

Kunt And The Gang

Kunt And The Gang live