Tuesday, 31 March 2009

My life in pictures (Day 1)

Ok, so o2 decided to give me 50 free multimedia messages to use over the next three days, so I feel I should use them up. Normally they cost me 50p each to send, so I'm gonna try to make the most of it.

Paul from Hexicon/Allo Darlin' shooting some pool after the Jonathan Richman show on Saturday.

Home sweet home...our weird but lovely street

Elizabeth of Allo Darlin' fame

I love this one. Anti-smoking ad on a Chinese cigarette packet. Diseased lung? No! Cancer? No! Terrified child? YES!!
So, you can expect another 46 photos over the next three days. Lucky you :)

Friday, 27 March 2009

Photo post No.2 (Brixton Jamm)

Went to Brixton Jamm last night to see Allo Darlin, Hexicon and Esiotrot. I took a whole roll of film, but didn't get many exciting ones. Here are the better ones.

Paul from Hexicon/Allo Darlin'

Monster Bobby doing his thang on an Allo Darlin' song

Monster Bobby and Elizabeth

Elizabeth Darling herself

Bill Moustache hanging out by himself, enjoying the show

Photo post No.1

This lunch-time I took an old roll of film to be developed. I like leaving it for months and months until you forget what's on it. This one was a bit of a mixed bag, mainly taken last summer when we were trying to take some Allo, Darlin' promo shots. These two were taken at Hampstead Heath.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

We Jam Econo: The Story of The Minutemen (4 out 5)

I'd been wanting to see this for a long time, so when those kind DVD-distributing puppies at the Lovefilm farm (that's how I imagine them) popped it in the mail I was very pleased indeed.

We Jam Econo: The Story of The Minutemen is...well...the story of the Minutemen. Charting the hostory of this seminal punkrockexperimentalweirdbutjazzfunkadelic band from their humble beginnings all through to the tragic death of singer/guitarist D. Boon. The story is told by Minuteman Mike Watt as he drives through their old home town pointing out places of interest, mixed with a bunch of rare live footage and a seriously impressive line-up of "talking heads" from the Punk Rock/Alternative Hall Of Fame. Ian Mackaye, Henry Rollins, Thurston Moore, Milo Auckerman, Raymond Pettibon, Jello Biafra, Keith Morris, Greg Ginn. everyone has opinion on the Minutemen.

It's an interesting film, mainly because the band is so good and fascinating, but I guess there isn't that much of a story here. They were an unusual band stuck in a love-hate relationship with the 80's hardcore punk scene and one of them died in a car accident. That's about it, really. And the archive footage, which is all very fascinating, just isn't that exciting on a technical level. But, maybe I'm being unfair. In my head I'm comparing it to other music documentaries about artists I love, such as Jem Cohen's Instrument (about Fugazi) or The Devil and Daniel Johnston, both of which featured insane amounts of extremely personal (and brilliantly shot) footage. Another complaint is the sound, which is absolutely terrible during some of the interviews.

In the end, I guess I'm just being snobbish. It's just not "arty" enough for me. Haha. Anyway, I give this film 4 Niks out of 5 possible. Well worth seeing. Maybe I'll do a Minutemen music post later on. Maybe.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Splinter (2 out 5)

I kinda gave up on modern horror films a long time ago. I guess I used to be easier to please. When I was younger it was simply a case of "the gorier, the better", but as I've gotten older the gore seems to have lost much of its previous appeal. Yesterday I had a couple of free tickets for Splinter at The Prince Charles Cinema off Leicester Square and I had nothing better to do, so I went. I guess the film was better than I expected it to be, but that doesn't really say much, since I was expecting to walk out half-way through. But, I stayed for the whole 82 minutes, since the film actually turned out to be vaguely entertaining.

Seth and Polly are a beautiful young couple and intent on celebrating their anniversary by going camping. When they are unable to get their tent up they pack up and start looking for a motel. Their car is flagged down by two shady-looking characters, recovering junkie Lacey and wanted criminal Dennis. They are taken hostage under gunpoint and things quickly take a turn for the worse. When they hit an "animal" and blow a tire, Lacey has a bit of a freak-out and Dennis gets a splinter. OH NO!!! Eventually they stop at a petrol station to get some provisions and Lacey goes to get herself a sneaky fix. Oh yes, pre-opening credits we witnessed the petrol station attendant getting attacked by some unknown creature. Lacey discovers the attendant's messed-up body and runs to warn the others. "There's a man with spikes" she screams and they all ignore her, believing it to be another of her junkie-tastic ramblings. But, surprise, surprise, the spikey dead man shows up and kills her. The three lock themselves in the deserted petrol station and start analysing the situation. Clever-boy Seth soon discovers that this "thing" feeds on blood and after hiding in the walk-in fridge they also eventually discover that it is attracted to heat and is unable find them in there. Meanwhile, Dennis' arm is getting worse from the splinter and Seth and Polly have to amputate his arm. The only tools at their disposal is a small carpet knife and a small block of concrete. If it sounds painful, well, it sure looks it as well. Anyway, Dennis is a trooper and by now the whole hostage thing has been forgotten. The three work together and watch in vain as a police officer arrives and is killed by the splinter creature. Seth comes up with the perfect plan. If he lies down in the freezer he can lower his body temperature to the point where the creature won't notice him, then get to the car and they can drive to freedom. Well, things don't go exactly as planned, but I'll leave it there…in case you desperately want to see how it all ends.

I guess my main problem with modern horror films is that whatever suspense there is, is usually generated by cranking the volume and using frantic editing techniques. Whenever anything exciting happens in Splinter the camera goes crazy and you can't really see anything apart from blood splattering and people panicking. I assume this is down to budgetary constraints rather than a stylistic choice, but to me it also speaks of a general lack of film-making skills. This MTV-style editing has been done to death and it just doesn't do anything for me anymore. Take a film like City of God for example. I know it's old by now, but it's just an example. It could have been a great movie, a powerful take on the horrors of gang-land Brazil. But, they had to go and ruin it all with their too-cool-for-school editing. And then everyone was talking about how realistic it was. I just don't get it. To me, the editing of the film did nothing apart from remind me that I was watching a popcorn film, rather than a film that had something to say.

So, there you go. Splinter just manages to scrape together 2 Niks out of 5 possible. However, this is mainly down to the amputation scene, which was pretty awesome.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

A podcast for the weekend

Time for another podcast. I won't write anything about it. It's a mixture of rocktastic goodness, twee-pop and just general awesomeness. Hope you enjoy it.

Records Make Great Pets #2

1. Bare Knees - Wine Stains
2. Stephen Malkmus - Phantasies
3. Bishop Allen - Quarter To Three
4. Brainpool - Everyday
5. The Mekons - I Saw You Dance
6. Bob Hund - Düsseldorf
7. Of Montreal - Jennifer Louise
8. Pansy Division - Flower
9. Quasi - California
10. The Bartlebees - She Loves Monsters
11. Rough Bunnies - My Baby Is Dead
12. The Distractions - Boys Cry
13. Mount Eerie - You Swan, Go On
14. Eagleowl - MF

Hmmm...I just looked out through our living room window and this is what I saw.

See the curious character on the stairs?

I have no idea what he's up to. Not sure I want to know. 

Friday, 20 March 2009

More mobile photos (even worse quality)

I realise these won't be of any interest to anyone apart from myself, but whatever.

Two of my childhood friends came over from Sweden to celebrate my 30th birthday.

I can't actually remember where and when this picture was taken.

My friend Hannes turned 30 before me. Woo hoo!

Mobile photos

I've had my phone since Christmas, but since I gave my special USB lead to my little sister (I'm a nice brother) I haven't been able to get any of the photos to my computer. Today, however, I realised that you can just send an MMS to photobucket and it goes straight into your album. So, here are a few photos from the past couple of months. The camera is crap, but still.

The above two pictures are of Ryland Bouchard, who I put on at The Wilmington Arms in January. He's pretty damn awesome.


We're playing in Berlin! There's a flyer and everything!

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Cocktails and weird foreign films

I went to the BFI last night, which always make me feel very sophisticated. This time it was for a screening of Four Nights With Anna, the new film from Polish director Jerzy Skolimowski and apparently his first in seventeen years. I had never heard of him before anyway, so this was my introduction to the man and his works.

Four Nights With Anna follows Leon, a socially inept (to put it mildly) loner in an unnamed, impoverished Polish village. Director Skolimowski starts playing tricks with his audience immediately. We watch Leon buy an axe and watch him throw a chopped of hand into a fire. Is he he crazy axe-wielding murderer? Nope, just a very lonely man working in the local hospital crematorium, whose only only point of human contact is his dying grandmother. Whilst looking for cover during a particularly rainy day he witnesses a violent rape. Paralysed with fear and by his own lack of confidence he doesn't intervene, but merely watches as the rapist runs off. When the victim, Anna, finally notices Leon he also flees the scene. Since Anna never saw the face of her actual attacker, Leon is eventually arrested for the rape and thrown in jail. Although set over a relatively short time-span, the film jumps between the past and the present, showing Leon before the rape, during his interrogation, in court, in prison and of course, during his four nights with Anna. Watching the brutal rape, Leon becomes fascinated with Anna's red toenails and falls in love. Using medication from his now dead grandmother he breaks into Anna's house and "spikes" her sugar, causing her to sleep much deeper than she would normally. Leon waits for her to fall asleep, climbs through the window and simply watches her, for four nights until the police takes him in. This is where Stolomowski uses, what he calls, his "sinister sense of humour" to lighten up the mood. It's not enough for Leon to be shy, lonely and just plain strange. No, he also has to be clumsy and have extremely bad luck. He slips in mud on several occasions and gets caught in nets and sheets whenever he tries to leave a place in a hurry. He buys an expensive ring for Anna, but manages to drop it between the cracks in her floor. She wakes up when he's in the room and he has to hide under the bed. This "slap-sticky" humour provides some light relief to an otherwise extremely bleak film, but it doesn't quite work. It's amusing and all but it just is a bit too much and eventually it's just plain annoying. Towards the end I just wanted to scream at Leon and tell to stop being such a baby. As a whole it was a pleasant enough film, but nothing that I would recommend to other people. Stylistically, it was very plain. Dark colours and long shots. There's not much dialogue and something is said it's just filler, without really adding to the story.

The screening was followed by a Q&A with the director and I was hoping that he would speak about the origin of the idea. The story itself was very timeless, without any real signs of modern technology. The year 2003 is mentioned in a court scene, so we knew it was set in the present, but that's really it. There are no computers, mobile phones or new cars, so it could easily have been set in the 80's or whenever really. I wanted to know if it was an old idea that he finally decided had to be told or a new idea that he came up with when he decided to get back into the business. Turns out the latter was the case and that the main reason the film was actually made was to prove to the film business that he still had it in him. The script was written in six days and then made on the cheap. So there.

Anyway, at the Q&A session they showed some clips from his earlier films and they couldn't have been any more different. His second feature, Barrier, looked particularly interesting and I will be looking out for that DVD later in the year.

After the screening there was a cocktail reception, with a bunch of different vodka based drinks (this being a Polish event and all). One free cocktail quickly led to five and six and then finally they ran out of vodka. Now my head hurts.

Scene from Barrier (1966)

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Polska Movski

I'm not quite sure where it's coming from, but I have to have a lot of excess energy these days. It means I have no problems getting up for work at 6:10, it keeps me going all through the day without that much coffee, but then I kind of crash at around ten and need to go to bed. Hmmm….so, I'm not sure if this is a good or a bad thing.

The Moustache recording session went pretty swell last night. Not only did we finish the demo of Brains, we also recorded a second demo, the tentatively named Imagine. So, at the moment we have four songs at a rough total of 9m 30s and we're hoping to squeeze in another six or seven songs in the remaining eleven minutes. Optimistic? Perhaps. Doable? Hell, yeah!

Tonight I'm going to a screening of Four Nights With Anna, which is part of the Polish Film Festival/Season at the BFI. I have no idea what it's about or if it's meant to be any good, but it was free and there's even a cocktail reception afterwards. Can't really argue with that, can you?

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Natalie Portman...is there anything you can't do?

Youtube won't let you embed this video, but it's pretty damn awesome.

just watch it

Recording like mofos, Cardiff etc

Moustache of Insanity have been spending a fair bit of time in the studio recently. With "a fair bit" I mean we have sat down to record at least three times in the last few weeks, and with "studio" I mean Bill's living room. It's extremely satisfying actually, the whole song-from-scratch-to-finish in a day. Last week we recorded Living Room Picnic, another brand new song. I wrote the lyrics on my way to work, hummed up a melody on my lunch break, hummed it to Bill around 5:30pm, he thought of the guitar parts and pretty much everything else, then less than two hours later, we have a pretty decent-quality demo. I'm a bit worried that the melody sounds a little too much like David-Ivar Herman Dune's Burn Burn, but hopefully it won't be too close. Anyway, that's what we're doing at the moment. Trying to write and record as many songs as possible for the next month. Then pick the best songs to fill a 23 minute mini-CD and then record those "properly"....obviously still in his living room, but just take a bit more care doing it. The CD should be out in May on WeePOP! Records and that is pretty much the most exciting thing ever.

I went to Cardiff with Allo, Darlin at the weekend. Cardiff is a strange place, much smaller than I imagined and unfortunately I got a bit of a bad vibe from the place. I'd like to think that this was mainly due to the fact that Wales was playing some other country at rugby and as a result the city centre was full of extremely drunken rugby fans...from the early afternoon onwards. The city itself seemed nice, but yes, the rugby kind of put a damper on the whole experience. Allo, Darlin was great as usual, but again, some drunken guy at the venue was being very loud and annoying. And you know, the uke really isn't the loudest of instruments. So, that was a shame, but these things happen. Freezepuppy was supporting, which was quite an experience. A really engaging performance, but very strange and truly unique. I hope to go and see him when he comes to London on 28th March.

The gig was part of a club night called Twisted By Design and they were responsible for the club afterwards. I found it hard to leave the dance floor, cause the hits kept coming: The Moldy Peaches' Who's Got The Crack, several Of Montreal tracks, Hefner's Hymn For The Cigarettes, Pulp's Babies and so on...all great fun...and then afterwards, we finished up the night the best way imaginable....CHIPS.....CHEESE...AND BEANS!! Go Cardiff!

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

the first blog post of my 30's

So, the first day of my thirties. Yesterday doesn't count, since it was my actual birthday. Today, it's a fact. I'm a little surprised, disappointed even, that it didn't hit me like a heads-on collision with a brick wall. I don't feel any different. But thinking about is strange. Thirty. 30. The big three-oh. It doesn't sound quite right. Hmmmm.


On Friday, Moustache of Insanity headed to Brighton for our very first "outside London" gig. We were playing as part of a club night called Shindig! at a bar called The Hope. Shindig! is a monthly night and each night has a different theme. This time it was:

Thinking of dead people and then trying to look like them seemed to involve a bit too much effort, but we had to do something. In the end I went for the old zombie-bear-angel look, while Bill opted for the more general zombie make up face thing.

It sounded pretty good as well....I think...

Actually, the whole set went surprisingly well, despite the fact that we hadn't practised for a while, we sold a bunch of CDs and people in general seemed to like us. Also, I have decided to forgive Travelodge for being so utterly useless and rubbish. How can anyone hold a grudge against a soulless "hotel" chain when they give you a view like this!

Then on Monday, we went to see a preview of Marley & Me in the cinema. I was expecting to really hate this film, but I was actually pleasantly surprised. It was sweet and funny and just really likeable. Not a life-changing experience by any means, but what movies are these days?

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Best things ever: Bobby Conn

More precisely the video for Never Get Ahead.

I wonder what happened to him. He seems to have disappeared after hi slast album King For A Day flopped. I'll always love Mister Conn. He's responsible for some of the most intensily enjoyable live performances I've ever experienced.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Best things ever: Pelicans

That's it. Pelicans. Simply awesome. St. James' Park is full of them. Well, four at least.

Popfest video

Another video clip from the popfest. This one is from the Buffalo Bar on Friday 27th February. Here, Allo, Darlin is joined on stage by Monster Bobby for an as of yet untitled duet.

Monday, 2 March 2009

"Dear Diary, my teen-angst bullshit now has a body count. "

Elizabeth was sick on Saturday, so we just stayed in and took it easy. After three days of heavy drinking it was quite nice to just do nothing. I'm not a doctor, but I do know that when someone is sick, you can try any old cocktail of Nurofen, orange juice and bed socks, but there's really only one thing that is actually guaranteed to help. And that, my friends, is nothing but a good old-fashioned 80's comedy or action movie. Normally a a really bad cold would require a dose of vitamin Rocky 4, but on Sunday she didn't require quite such drastic treatment. After considering Rambo III for a moment we decided that maybe something like Heathers would do the trick.

If you haven't seen it, you're really missing out. You can get a copy at amazon for £2, so what have you got to lose, eh?

I've seen this film a number of times and something that always strikes me is how different it is from today's "teen movies". Not only is it dark, crude, violent, very un-pc and very funny, but above all it's actually well-written, well-acted, with well-drawn characters. How many teen movies these days ticks any of those boxes?

So, Winona Ryder plays Veronica, 4th in command in the "popular girl's squad". As opposed to her three "friends", the Heathers, she actually has a heart and she's getting fed up with treating the other students like shit. She develops a friendship with J.D. (played by Christian Slater), the rebel/outsider, who's been transferred between schools throughout his life. Together they embark on a moral (well, sort of) mission to teach the popular/horrible kids a lesson. Things get completely out of hand and, well...just watch it.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Still Popfesting

The Smittens last night....definitely the highlight of the day. I'm too tired to write anything else. It was fun, but nowhere near as amazing as Friday (or Thursday even).

There was a mix-CD swap thing going on, but I didn't have a any blank CD's left and couldn't burn mine. This is what it looked like. 

1. Cub - Ticket To Spain
2. David-Ivar Herman Dune - Burn Burn
3. The Dead Milkmen - Dean's Dream
4. Dream Bitches - Maniacal Mechanic
5. Elephant Parade - For You
6. The Halo Benders - Don't Touch My Bikini
7. Linda Scott - I've Told Every Little Star
8. Phoebe Kreutz - Oh, Elizabeth I
9. Ryland Bouchard - Another Day No. 2
10. Say Hi To Your Mom - Let's Talk About Spaceships
11. Soda Fountain Rag - Are Philosophers Lonely?
12. Spaghetti Vabune! - Chocolate Song
13. Springfactory - Get Out Of Bed