Thursday, December 30
2004 is all over, so it's time for the results from the Great Barr jury.
Single of the year
10. !!! – Hello Is This Thing On?
A swirling punk-funk masterpiece.
Listen to the track
9. Art Brut – Formed A Band
An art-punk Busted for grown ups...but in a good way.
Listen to the track
8. Interpol – Slow Hands
A slow burner, straight into your soul. Plus Paul Banks has an excellent range of hats.
7. The Walkmen – The Rat
Passionate, bitter, resentful. I don't know who this song is about but I wouldn't like to be them.
6. The Others – This Is For The Poor
An anthem for somebody or other...
5. The Killers – Mr Brightside
They were debated on Newsnight Review and slagged of by Germaine Greer, what more of a recommendation do you need?
4. Bloc Party – Helicopter
They will be kings.
3. Franz Ferdinand – Take Me Out
Essentially, two seperate songs welded together with a blowtorch belonging to Josef K.
2. LCD Soundsystem – Yeah
James Murphy is a genius.
1. Gwen Stefani – What You Waiting For?
Quite simply the best pop song released this year and perhaps even this Millennium.
Birmingham bus route of the year.
5. 79 - Birmingham - Wolverhampton
4. 61/62/63 - Birmingham - Selly Oak
3. 45/47 - Birmimngham - Edgbaston
2. 16a Scott Arms - Birmingham (via Hamstead)
1. 951 Walsall - Birmingham (express)
Gig of the year
5. Radio4 @ Birmingham Academy 2
4. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds @ Wolverhampton Civic Hall
3. !!! @ Roskilde Festival, Denmark
2. The Faint + Sunshine @ Berlin Magnet Club
1. PJ Harvey @ Oxford Zodiac
City of the year
Sports personality of the year
5. Robbie Savage (Birmingham City)
4. Quinten Hann (For making snooker rock 'n' roll)
3. Ian Holloway (QPR Manager)
2. Thierry Cruybeeck (For breaking the course record in the final of the British Open Minigolf in Stratford)
1. Andy Fordham (For winning the World Darts Championship and eating all the pies.
Film of the year
5. Napoleon Dynamite
4. Farenheit 9/11
3. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
2. Lost In Translation
1. 21 Grams
Wednesday, December 29
20. Bloc Party – Banquet
Set to be THE band of 2005.....
19. Ikara Colt – Modern Feeling
Cruelly ignored by just about everyone. You should take their angular art-punk to your hearts and cherish them.
18. TV On The Radio – Staring At The Sun
Unclassifiable genius...the term 'Barbershop Indie Rock' doesn't really do them justice.
17. The Faint – I Disappear
Storming foot stomping electro-pop from the Nebraskan Duran Duran.
Listen to the track
16. The Strokes – Reptilia
Stand out track from The Strokes second album. Pop genius.
15. Kasabian – LSF
Indie-dance is no longer a dirty word(s)
14. The Others – Stan Bowles
Anthemic hymn to the QPR footballer and/or Pete Doherty.
13. Razorlight – Stumble And Fall
Love him or hate him, you can't ignore Johnny Borrell. Possibly the finest songwriter to emerge in the UK this year, and a truckload of arrogance to back it up.
12. U2 – Vertigo
1, 2, 3, 14! Brilliant first single from their dull as dishwater new album.
11. Death From Above 1979 – Romantic Rights
Two men who make a lot of noise. 176 seconds of crunching riffs, pounding drums and snarling vocals.
30. The Rakes - Strasbourg
Is this Ian Curtis I see before me....?
29. Kelis feat. Andre 3000 - Millionaire
Everything Outkast touch turns to gold.
28. The Bravery - Unconditional
Lead track off the debut EP from this drop dead cool New York five-piece.
27. Carina Round - Lacuna
Black Country girl done good.
Carina Round interview
26. Hope Of The States - The Red The White The Black & The Blue
Overcoming tragedy with grace, passion and a violin solo.
25. The Departure - Be My Enemy
The best thing to come out of Northampton since Des O'Connor.
24. Kaiser Chiefs - I Predict A Riot
Filter Magazine describes them as 'Equal parts The Kinks, XTC, and Madness' and who am I to disagree.
23. Morrissey - First Of The Gang To Die
The Mozzster returns in the form of his life.
22. Von Bondies - C'mon, C'mon
irrepressibly catchy garage pop.
21. Green Day - Boulevard Of Broken Dreams
Californian punks finally grow up.
Tuesday, December 28
40. Agent Blue – Sex, Drugs and Rocks Through Your Window
Young whippersnappers from Stoke produce the best named single of the year...destined for greatness.
39. Graham Coxon – Freakin’ Out
Geeky man in glasses gets a bit over-excited.
38. The Stills – Lola Stars And Stripes
Epic rock from Montreal.
37. The Futureheads – Decent Days And Nights
The post punk Proclaimers.
36. Hot Chip – Playboy
Minimalist electro that you can dance to.
35. Lostprophets – Last Summer
We all hate the Lostprophets don't we because they are like a nu-metal boyband, but tell me you can't resist that guitar solo near the end.
34. PJ Harvey – The Letter
Great first single off an album that I still haven't really taken to.
33. Peaches Ft. Iggy Pop – Kick It
Two of the foulest mouths in the business team up for a very rude duet.
32. Art Brut – Modern Art
Dancing in Art Galleries has never seemed so appealing.
'Modern art makes me want to rock out, woooooooooooooooo'.
Listen to the track
31. Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds – Nature Boy
It was a toss up between this and 'There She Goes...' Cave delivers his best album for years.
Friday, December 24
I love this sequence of photos taken by Fincho at the Panto Horse Grand National in Birmingham a few weeks ago. It is a dangerous event - an ambulance had to be called (though not for the man pictured). Myself and The Finch considered entering but didn't do so this year....Maybe next year the glory will be ours....
The horses approach the first fence....
Thursday, December 23
The funniest TV moment of the year happened last night at The Mailbox. A random woman wandered behind the presenter as she was reading the news. The random woman was chewing gum and squinting into the studio, oblivious to the 'on air' signs. It had to happen eventually....very very funny! Classic television.
See the clip (Real Player needed)
Make sure you watch right to the end so you can see her reaction as someone tells her to get out of the way.
Tuesday, December 21
Last week I accompanied Fincho, Big Dave, My sister and fellow bloggers Kenny and Ben along to see Interpol at the Academy. It was an excellent gig made all the better by meeting two of the best bloggers in the business.
In his recollection of the events of the evening, Kenny describes Fincho as 'Natalie Portman from Leon all grown up' and as for myself 'tall, with the amiable faze-free air of Dylan from The Magic Roundabout' - an excellent compliment, although the first time I scanned through his post I thought it said 'amiable fuzz free hair', which would also be a compliment...
I'm not going to review the gig, but you can read reviews here, hereand here.
In other news, I saw Smiling Steve, the winner of X Factor. 'He smiled at me' I excitedly said to a friend. 'Yeah he smiled at me too' she said. Then someone else chirps up from across the room 'me too'.
So this is how he managed to win, his face is like one of those paintings with the eyes that seem to follow you round the room, only it's his smile instead. Very sinister indeed.
I should have voted for G4......
Saturday, December 18
It's not a definitive list, just my opinion...
What have I missed?
What shouldn't be on there?
1. !!! – Louden Up Now
2. Ikara Colt – Modern Apprentice
3. The Faint – Wet From Birth
4. Interpol – Antics
5. DFA Compilation #2
6. Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds – Abattoir Blues / Lyre of Orpheus
7. Razorlight – Up All Night
8. Death From Above 1979 - You're A Woman, I'm A Machine (Import)
9. Manic Street Preachers – Lifeblood
10. TV On The Radio – Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes
11. Radio 4 – State Of The Nation
12. MC Lars – The Laptop EP
13. Franz Ferdinand – Franz Ferdinand
14. The Futureheads – The Futureheads
15. The Walkmen - Bows And Arrows
16. Morrissey – You Are The Quarry
17. Blonde Redhead - Misery Is A Butterfly
18. Gwen Stefani – Love, Angel, Music, Baby
19. Soulwax – Any Minute Now
20. Pink Grease – This Is For Real
21. The Killers – Hot Fuss
22. Lali puna – Faking The Books
23. Ryan Adams – Love Is Hell Parts 1 & 2
24. Misty’s Big Adventure – Misty’s Big Adventure And Their Place In The Solar System
25. PJ Harvey – Uh Huh Her
26. Vive La Fête – Nuit Blanche
27. Regina Spektor – Soviet Kitsch
28. The Stills – Logic Will Break Your Heart
29. Badly Drawn Boy - One Plus One is One
30. McLusky - The Difference Between Me And You Is That I'm Not On Fire
Lest We Forget:
Danger High Postage albums of 2003
1. Yeah Yeah Yeah's - Fever to Tell
2. The Rapture - Echoes
3. Carina Round - The Disconnection
4. The Kills - Keep on Your Mean Side
5. Tom McRae - Just Like Blood
This is officially my new favourate weblog - I hate Keane
This fella certainly isn't happy:
"Mission 'Eliminate Keane': Week 2
Good morning troops,
My, isn't life hard? Not only do we have to contend with the daily grind of the old nine to five, not only do the ravages of the passing days and years take their toll on our physical, nee, mental wellbeing, and yet another day passes when we have to suffer gladly the fools who blight our life while we go about our chores; the postman who leaves packages on the doorstep and doesn't knock, the imbecile who shortchanges you at Tesco, the gary boy in his super-dupered-up 1985 Ford Escort. NOT ONLY do we have to contend with this steaming maelstrom of bovine manure, but then along come the evil, pre-pubescent harpies who are Keane, sponsored by Satan yet wearing the 'cherubic' gurning visage of some demented angel, singing about some den of iniquity where 14-year olds can go and fiddle with each other. It's awful! THEY are awful! I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take it anymore!!"
This guy needs our support...I for one, am backing his campaign.
Friday, December 17
Well the revolving doors at my office have finally been officially put back into use after the 'incident' several months ago. It's a good job I've got this handy guide so I know what to do.
That rag of a newspaper The Metro has plagiarised my article on the Electric Cinema for a story in today's issue. You know the Metro - when you are on a bus, you have the choice of reading it or staring at the back of the person's head in front of you for 30 minutes - I must admit that often I choose the second option.
In the very first paragraph of their short piece on the Electric it says:
"When the Electric Cinema closed down at the end of 2003, its then-owner described the oldest working cinema in the country as "no longer economically viable"
Let us take a look at paragraph three of my article, published earlier this week:
"The cinema, which dates back to 1909, is the oldest working cinema in the country. It closed in December 2003, with former owner Steven Metcalf describing it as "no longer economically viable."
Any similarities there?
The quote is from an interview I did with Steven Metcalf, former owner of the Electric, in March earlier this year. He now runs the Screen Room in Nottingham and hardly ever gives interviews or press regarding the Electric. It took me many phone calls and lots of negotiation to get that interview, so to have some of it lifted and printed somewhere else uncredited, is more than a little annoying.
I shall be consulting my lawyers.
Thursday, December 16
It's got a new sign, sofas, it's beige and it's back! The Electric Cinema in Birmingham - the only independent cinema left in the city, reopens to the public tomorrow.
Tuesday, December 14
Last night's A Different Kettle of Fish was a sterling success. Enigmatic Frenchman Phillip Bergeroo thrilled the crowd with perhaps his last ever British show. Will the Eric Cantona of the West Midlands indie DJ scene ever play in Birmingham again?
Included in Mr Bergeroo's set were track by Bloc Party, The Others, The Departure, The Faint, Elastica, Martini Henry Rifles, The Rapture, Sunshine, The Barcelona Pavilion, Mylo, McLusky and more...
A mixed crowd included plenty of students and some disgruntled Man Utd supporters who came upstairs following their disappointing result. My favourite punter of the night was a bald middle aged man in an anorak who entered the room to the sound of the Buzzcocks and proceeded to perch himself at the bar and sup his beer seemingly oblivious to what was going on in the rest of the room.
Big respect in the Selly Oak area to Claire for her organisational and promotion work and Rich for his splendid equipment and for playing Babylon Zoo.
The next one will probably be late Jan or early Feb - but will DJ Bergeroo be tempted out of retirement?
Sunday, December 12
A Different Kettle of Fish presents:
An evening of excellent music.
Monday 13 December
Upstairs @ The Bristol Pear, Selly Oak, Birmingham
DJ Phillipe Bergeroo (last ever performance) - Punk Funk & Indie Disco
Ideaosphere - Geetar Trash and Indie Pop
DJ Erised - Lofi, indie and rock with rogue pop undertones
Saturday, December 11
Hello, Phill has given me permission to take over his blog for a week to celebrate the first birthday of Danger High Postage. I'm going to start by talking about my disaster with Halfords this week. I decided that I was going to have a car radio for Christmas, and I'm beginning to wish that I had never started to investigate how much they cost, or how I was going to get it installed in the first place.
To start with the guy in the shop tried to persuade me to have a cd player in my car instead of a bog standard tape deck with a radio with Long Wave on it. I'm sure the sales guy thought I was some kind of luddite because I wanted a tape deck ("What are they?" "God, they're so passe, horrible things from the eighties"), and Long Wave ("What could you possibly need Long Wave for?"). Well to listen to French radio actually. Anyway, I was informed that I would have to wait for a special cable to come in before the radio could be installed, so I went home with a radio that couldn't actually be installed for the time being.
On the cable's arrival I went back to the shop and they arranged to install the radio later on in the day. So I went back after work and a boy (and yes he was a boy) who didn't seem to have clue told me that he was going to be installing my radio. Great. He eyed the box like he'd never seen a radio before. Anyway, I stood by my car in the freezing cold carefully examening whether the guy was making a mess of my car. "Can you put the ignition on love?" he said after a while, and so I obliged. No lights, no sound. "Did your other radio work love, the one that was in before?" "Yes, it bloody well did thanks". "Well, I think I'm going to have to cut some wires. Can you turn the ignition off because I don't want to blow any fuses". What!!?!? By this time I decided that this comedian hadn't got a clue what he was doing. "I'll just go and talk to my supervisor" he said, and shuffled off.
He reappeared after what seemed like hours and informed me that I would have to come back again because he couldn't cut any wires while it was dark. More likely, you don't know which wires to actually cut I thought. I enquired to whether I could come in at the weekend and I was told that he had a lot of customers to see to at the weekend. Well, am I not a customer I thought?!? What am I, an alien or something? So there you have it. At the moment I still haven't had the damn thing installed, and they just seemed to have pulled out a load of wires and just left them there. If they can't do it next week, I'll have revenge!
Danger! High Postage is one year old today...i'm sure i'll post something life affirming and meaningful soon, but in the meantime i'm off to watch Match Of The Day.
Birmingham's coolest club night Capsule are also celebrating a birthday (did you spot the tenuous link?) Read my interview with Lisa and Jenny from Capsule.
Thursday, December 9
Ok, it's a fair cop. I went to see The Darkness on Tuesday and even of enjoyed it in a kind of ironic way. But what kind of tiger was Justin straddling? I just couldn't find the right breed....
The Darkness - Tuesday 7 December - Birmingham NEC
On their first arena tour, it’s clear that The Darkness have found their natural habitat. Costume changes, pyrotechnics, flames and Justin astride a life sized tiger above the audience. All in an evenings work for the spandex clad four-piece from Suffolk. But first...
‘Hello, we’re Ash from Northern Ireland’ proclaims frontman Tim Wheeler after the bands opening run through of ‘Girl From Mars’. The band proceed to deliver an efficient 40 minute mix of newer tracks and old classics, without ever really fully capturing the imagination of the crowd.
Wheeler, uncomfortably resembling Daniel Bedingfield with his new shaggy-haired unshaven look, is the ideal frontman. Guitarist Charlotte Hatherley is a picture of elegant cool and perfectly balances bassist Mark Hamilton’s awkward charm and drummer Rick McMurray’s studied intensity.
Tracks from their newest album ‘Meltdown’ are politely received by the audience, but it’s not until the final track ‘Burn Baby Burn’ that they really show their appreciation for what is after all, one of the best bands in the country.
The one surprise of the Ash set is their cover of ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’ by Think Lizzy. The song, along with videos from the likes of The Cult, Van Halen and Aerosmith on the big screen perfectly sets the mood for the headline act.
Though they’ve only released one album The Darkness have a batch of new material and open with the abrasive blast of ‘Grief Hammer’. ‘Birmingham put your hands in the air immediately’ demands Justin Hawkins, before launching into ‘Giving Up’ and ‘Stuck in a Rut’, much to the delight of the crowd.
Although ostensibly a metal gig, there isn’t really a metal crowd in attendance. Families and well dressed couples dominate the audience, making the ageing rockers look decidedly out of place. The man sitting next to me is wearing a blazer and even has some theatre binoculars – not very rock ‘n’ roll.
Impressive stage show
The stage show is impressive, with flames, indoor fireworks and bangs galore, whilst the set is an even mix of new and old. Newer tracks like the promising ‘Dinner Lady Arms’ are followed by hits like the crowd pleasing ‘Growing On Me’. Hawkins plays the crowd like a true showman, ‘I thought this was meant to be the home of rock’ he mocks, as they fall a bit quiet in between songs.
As well as giving the crowd something to laugh about, The Darkness want to show off their excellent musicianship. The ryhthm section of drummer Ed Graham and bassist Frankie Poullain (looking even more like a 70’s tennis player than usual), are as tight as any around, and the guitar playing of the Hawkins brothers is at times blistering.
The sweeping, epic power ballad ‘Love Is Only A Feeling’ proves to be one of the highlights of the night. Then….disbelief as a keyboard is wheeled out.
The rules of rock
One of the unwritten rules of rock is that all songs involving keyboards almost without exception are bad, but then when have The Darkness ever bothered with convention?
‘Seemed Like A Good Idea’ marks a shift in direction for the band. Justin plays keyboard whilst his brother Dan accompanies him on an acoustic sounding guitar. It’s all very nice, but reminiscent of the ‘Lick My Love Pump’ scene in Spinal Tap – If you’ve seen the film, you’ll know what I mean.
Then things get even more surreal as Justin straps on one of the most reviled musical instruments in rock history – a key-tar! The offending song ‘English Country Garden’, is the most memorable of new tracks, but not necessarily for the right reasons!
The set is finished with ‘Get Your Hands Off My Woman’, before the return for the inevitable encore and almost as inevitable costume change for Justin, into a silver, spangly catsuit.
The crowd are really into it now and an extended version of ‘I Believe In A Thing
Called Love’, leads on to the most rock ‘n’ roll moment of the night.
Justin disappears backstage for a moment, before slowly rising up to the roof on the back of a giant white tiger. He is then dangled over the crowd on the back of the tiger as he solos his way through ‘Love On The Rocks’, a truly memorable moment.
Finally, as it’s the festive season, The Darkness play their comedy Christmas track ‘Don’t Let The Bells End’, before leaving in a shower of confetti.
It’s a sure sign of a good gig, that almost every member of the audience leaves with a smile on their face. The Darkness are without exception, the most entertaining live band in Britain, but it remains to be seen whether their ‘difficult second album’ will prove as successful as their first. Whatever happens, let's just hope they don't lose their sense of camp irony in the process.
Wednesday, December 8
We went to see top comedian Robert Newman at the Mac. El Fincherino wrote a review. Nice knowledge of Nicaraguan politics there young Finch - well done.
Rob Newman @ Midlands Arts Centre
Rob Newman is both highly political and highly amusing. He is anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, and anti-war. His brand of comedy is certainly not for those without a good grasp of world history and politics.
Formerly a member of The Mary Whitehouse Experience, Newman then formed a double act with David Baddiel. Whereas Baddiel then took a more laddish direction, Newman embraced political comedy in the vein of Mark Thomas.
He comes onto the stage dressed in a dark suit and bowler hat and makes a few cracks about the arctic scenery on the stage which is in place ready for the MAC’s ‘Snow Queen’ production.
Newman commences the first half by talking about his American tour and the amount of phone-in radio shows he listened to whilst travelling the States. He highlights one particular show in which an American woman rang in complaining about a Vietnamese family who have moved in next to them. She apparently said something along the lines of “How would they like it if a load of Americans went over there?” Both Newman and the audience can’t believe the irony of this statement.
Things then take a turn for the historical as Newman proceeds to talk about The Virginia Company and imagines what the people on the boat sailing over to Virginia must have been like. He pretends that John Lydon was one of the members aboard, mocking reality TV as he does so, and John’s new career as a presenter of wildlife programmes. Newman, as a self professed ex-punk seems to be highly cynical about Lydon’s new found success on the back of ‘I’m a Celebrity’.
However, Lydon is not the only figure in popular music that Newman accuses of selling out. He plays his banjo and sings a song in the style of Bob Dylan with scathing lyrics about Dylan’s gigs for multi-national companies, where he plays all the hits – something he never seems to do on his tours. Newman’s spin on this is to get the audience to imagine Dylan singing about the people in the company, for example about the comedy tie of an employee in accounts.
Newman emerges on to the stage for the second half, wearing a T-Shirt with the words ‘George Bush and Son Family Butchers’ written on it. He proudly shows this off to the audience. This leads to more political comedy and covers many of the subjects, such as Globalisation, that he examined in his most recent novel ‘The Fountain at the Centre of the World’.
Newman’s skill lies in his ability to mix serious political points with popular culture and the surreal. Like his comparison of the actions advocated in the 1985 Freedom Fighters Manual, given out to Nicaraguan Contras by the American Government, to an episode of Top Cat.
There are points such as leaving the lights on, putting nails in the road and being late for work, which gets a big laugh from the audience – even more so when he stresses the point that this is a real document was used by the Reagan administration to try and unseat the left-wing Sandinista government in Nicaragua.
Gig or history lecture?
At times you could be forgiven for thinking you've just walked into a history lecture rather than a comedy show. However Newman's political diatribes and historical ramblings are always worth listening to, as like BBC4's Mark Steel Lectures, they are laced with humour and pack a punchline that's usually worth waiting for.
The evening’s events are concluded with more songs, one about ‘The Last Rasta in Notting Hill’ and rather bizarrely, another about the queen not looking after her swans. Both are extremely witty.
He does a brief encore about his sinister old landlord and concludes with a piece about the two leaders of the Chinese government, President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, leading to a comical misunderstanding between the two Ronnies.
Newman’s show seemed to be greatly enjoyed and his political views were well received by the audience. Although his humour is dark and satirical it is also fiercely funny, and a good time was had by all.
I had an exciting email the other day from a fellow member of the FC St Pauli forums, where my username is Bergerac. ‘Is my name inspired by the famous TV detective?’ the email enquired. ‘Yes, it is in tribute to Sir John Nettles' I replied. ‘Well I grew up on Jersey’ said my fellow St Pauli fan, 'And I was lucky enough to be an extra in an episode of Bergerac in 1985 - The episode was called Chrissie'
I am of course insanely jealous.
Sunday, December 5
Something to warm the hearts of people everywhere in the run up to Christmas.
"I was totally covered, it was all through my clothes, and it stank to high heaven. It went all inside the car." Said the cheeky racist.
Rumours that a ex Labour foreign minister was invloved have been as yet unconfirmed. "The suspect is described as white, with a ginger beard."