Friday, March 14, 2003

Criminal Records #5

'Long Way' - Rootjoose

Once again, I'm going to pass the buck. Upon arriving at university in September 1997, I made the acquaintance of a young gentleman named Dave who introduced me and my associates to a band from the West Country called Rootjoose. They were friends of his, you see, and over the course of the year he arranged for them to come up and play at the university on a couple of occasions. Although they were undoubtedly a lovely bunch of lads, and although their gigs made some semblance of sense when heavily intoxicated and flailing around the students' union bar, it must be said that in the cold harsh light of day what the world really didn't need was a pub funk version of Reef attempting to compensate for a lack of earthy sexuality by gurning a lot and wearing an assortment of wacky and brightly-coloured hats. To make matters worse, the B-side to the single 'Long Way' was, I think, 'The Paradiddle Song', named after a drumming technique. Still, their cover of 'Taxman' by The Beatles wasn't quite as atrocious as it might conceivably have been.

A quick round-up of a few things to have caught my attention in the blogosphere.

Sadly there's been a lack of activity recently over at No Rock 'N' Roll Fun, usually the source of much entertainment, but thanks to Badger Minor for alerting me to the fact that the excellent music webzine Splendid is covering the annual South By South West music festival in Austin, Texas.

Two more blogs to recommend, if you don't read them already: Vodkabird, who uses the classic quote "What we got here is failure to communicate" as a tag line - a quality touch whether it's taken straight from 'Cool Hand Luke' or from the snippet of film dialogue at the beginning of Guns 'N' Roses' 'Civil War'; and Last Bus Anywhere, to which I was immediately attracted by the indignant critique of the latest instance of lazy journalism padding out NME, the Top 100 Albums Of All Time list.

Finally, congratulations to Mike for reaching his target of 235 comments for a single post. As a result he's pledged £100 to Comic Relief - nice one.
Know Your Enemy #5

You-know-who on you-know-who:


Thursday, March 13, 2003

Quote of the day

"Perhaps she would rather glow in the wide if dirty skies of life, than in the somewhat remote and unsatisfactory ether of Art" - D H Lawrence, 'Glad Ghosts'
Lyric-that's-stuck-in-my-head-and-refusing-to-leave of the day

"I want something good to die for / To make it beautiful to live"

'Go With The Flow' - Queens Of The Stone Age
Criminal Records #4

'Something To Say' - Jocasta

This is how it started: "You've got to come along and see this band", said friends at the Reading Festival in 1996, "they were really good when they supported Ash in Newcastle." It finished precisely ten seconds after playing this single for the first time, purchased in the wake of their festival appearance. 'Something To Say', fittingly enough, has absolutely nothing to say - a big drab wet blanket of a song, an empty gesture, the musical equivalent of an utterly indifferent shrug of the shoulders. They sank without trace.
The one-eyed man is king

You can always rely on the Guardian's Steve Bell for incisive political comment.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Criminal Records #3

'Cats In The Cradle' - Ugly Kid Joe

OK, OK, just give me the whipping and the hair shirt now and let's get it over with. Do I really have to write about this? Where I got this from I don't know. What I do know is that there's absolutely no excuse. As for most of those unfortunate to remember them, Ugly Kid Joe first cast their bad-metal shadow over my consciousness with their song 'Everything About You' (chorus: "I hate everything about you"), a sort of sub-Tenacious D track, if that's possible. 'Cats In The Cradle' was the excruciatingly bad soft-rock follow-up single where they tried to go all serious and sensitive. In an extraordinary move, lead singer Whitfield Crane went on to replace Keith Caputo as vocalist of former hardcore mob Life Of Agony. Unsurprisingly, it didn't work out. Anyway, 'Cats In The Cradle' - it's an appalling song, and I'm truly, truly sorry if I've inadvertently awaken bad memories. Just be glad that I haven't tried to inflict an MP3 of it on y'all...
Vanity Project #5

The fifth issue of the very fine free low-budget Portsmouth-based fanzine Vanity Project is out on the prowl right now, featuring (amongst other things):
An obituary of Lonnie Donegan
An interview with Fortuna Pop's Tender Trap (who count former members of Talulah Gosh and Heavenly among their ranks)
A label profile of Cardiff's Trauma Press Recordings
Live reviews of Cardiacs, Ladytron, The Polyphonic Spree, Chris T-T and Queen Adreena
Reviews of My Computer, Ballboy, The Paybacks / The Henchmen, Of Montreal, qhixldekx, Saloon and Hyperkinako.

For more information, email Mr Vain himself at and check out previous issues by clicking here.
Armani, Versace, Beckham

Hot on the heels of the news that Atomic Kitten have launched their own line of clothing (leading to the astute observation of Simon over on No Rock 'N' Roll Fun that this would make it much easier for parents to clothe their children like Scouse whores) comes my discovery today that none other than Manchester-United-and-England-superstar-David-Beckham has designed a range of kids' clothes for Marks & Spencers. Now, call me cynical, but the concept of David "designing" anything seems rather preposterous. I have visions of him coming home from a morning's training with Scholesy, Giggsy and Nevillsy, grabbing a bite to eat, and then spending his afternoon sat with Brooklyn around the kitchen table drawing pictures with crayons and having to plead with Victoria to be allowed to use the scissors. Anyway, surely the whole thing is going to precipitate a massive increase in traumatised young boys suffering from confusion about their gender, when a Beckham-"designed" child's sarong becomes available?
"That John Denver's full of shit, man"

I'd forgotten just how great a film 'Dumb And Dumber' really is. Of course, the Farrelly brothers have got to shoulder the responsibility for the tidal wave of facsimile frat-boy comedies that have subsequently left cinemas awash in unpleasantly aromatic sewage, but 'Dumb And Dumber' is the zenith (or, more properly, the nadir) of their puerile humour, and it's relentlessly funny no matter how hard you try to resist and look down your nose at it. Compulsive viewing for Jim Carrey's quite remarkable repertoire of facial expressions alone.
The pride and so nearly the glory

The fact that we can go to the San Siro to take on Inter Milan, one of Italy's best sides, with a team boasting almost nothing in terms of European experience and come away feeling bitterly disappointed not to have secured all three points speaks volumes for our performance. Quite simply, we were magnificent, and nothing can take that away - not the disgraceful displays of theatricality by the likes of Conceicao and Emre, not the ludicrous booking for Bellamy, not the racist abuse of the Inter crowd directed at Bramble, Bernard and Lua Lua. Shearer grabbed another couple of vital goals to take him to five in the last two Champions' League games, and while I'm reluctant to single any one player out for praise, it must be said that Bernard was absolutely outstanding in his commitment, tackling and overall contribution to the game. Unfortunately, of course, to progress in the competition we now need to beat Barcelona at home and hope that Leverkusen somehow manage to spring a massive upset by denying Inter a win. Still, that we're even in this position is a fantastic achievement.

Just can't resist contrasting our current fortunes with the parlous state of affairs down on Wearside. Howard Wilkinson and Steve Cotterill aka The Dream Team lasted just 20 league games (27 games in total), amassing a fabulous 11 points and overseeing some scintillating displays of suicidal football - at home to Charlton and away to Spurs particularly come to mind. So, now the weight is set to fall on Mick McCarthy's shoulders - I suppose Bob Murray's rationale is that at least he's one person who's been proven to get Kevin Kilbane kicking in the right direction...
Quote of the day

Over at Hipster Detritus, a true American calls for the boycott of all music by French artists and their associates:

Remember, to willingly listen to and purchase the music of these TRAITORS TO THE AMERICAN WAY OF LIFE is to throw up your hands and shout "come on in, Saddam, and sodomise Lady Liberty!"

Ah, I love the smell of satire in the morning.
Know Your Enemy #4

The Guardian's daily teatime football email 'The Fiver' on Sir Alex Ferguson:

"It is certainly one of the weakest in terms of numbers and it looks a bit thin when you get a few injuries like we have at the moment" - This is Sir Alex Ferguson, manager of Manchester United, the world's richest club, moaning about the size of his squad. Fans of Aston Villa, Barnsley, Birmingham City, Blackburn Rovers, Blackpool, Bolton Wanderers, Boston United, Bournemouth, Bradford City, Brentford, Brighton & Hove Albion, Bristol City, Bristol Rovers, Burnley, Bury, Cambridge United, Cardiff City, Carlisle United, Charlton Athletic, Chelsea, Cheltenham Town, Chesterfield, Colchester United, Coventry City, Crewe Alexandra, Crystal Palace, Darlington, Derby County, Everton, Exeter City, Fulham, Gillingham, Grimsby Town, Hartlepool United, Huddersfield Town, Hull City, Ipswich Town, Kidderminster Harriers, Leeds United, Leicester City, Leyton Orient, Lincoln City, Luton Town, Macclesfield Town, Manchester City, Mansfield Town, Middlesbrough, Millwall, Newcastle United, Northampton Town, Norwich City, Nottingham Forest, Notts County, Oldham Athletic, Oxford United, Peterborough United, Plymouth Argyle, Port Vale, Portsmouth, Preston North End, Queens Park Rangers, Reading, Rochdale, Rotherham United, Rushden & Diamonds, Scunthorpe United, Sheffield United, Sheffield Wednesday, Shrewsbury Town, Southampton, Southend United, Stockport County, Stoke City, Sunderland, Swansea City, Swindon Town, Torquay United, Tottenham Hotspur, Tranmere Rovers, Walsall, Wanderers, Watford, West Bromwich Albion, West Ham United, Wigan Athletic, Wimbledon, Wolverhampton, Wrexham, Wycombe Wanderers and York City will no doubt offer him their heartfelt sympathy.

Monday, March 10, 2003

Criminal Records #2

'Stay Together' - Suede

How and why did I allow myself to be seduced by this song, from way back in the early 90s when Suede were considered, by rather more people than is now the case, to be "relevant" and even "good"? The simple fact is that Brett Anderson is a pretentious cock whose offensive vocal mewling and caterwauling would ruin any record, no matter how "relevant" and even "good" it was. Suffice to say that 'Stay Together' is certainly neither now, just one of those songs almost guaranteed (or calculated? - is it some kind of DJ-led conspiracy?) to rear its fuck-ugly head to prick the inflated balloon that is my enjoyment at indie discos all over the land (see also: anything by Cast, Shed Seven, The Stone Roses).
You WHAT?!!

Sorry, 'fraid I ain't got what you guys have been looking for...

solskjaer jesus
tops-off boxing female
anthony wilson duck
does jermaine jenas have a girlfriend
gruesome tit nailing


Know Your Enemy #3

Stephen Malkmus on Sting:

"I'm not much like him. He's one of my least favourite guys. He grosses me out. I hate that world music he makes. He's just so successful. It's like he's got hovercraft shoes, blowing through the world without any problems. He's Mr. Good Life. If there's ever a movie, and he needs, like, an evil anti-Sting that he fights, I'll be that guy."

(Thanks to Fluxblog)

Feel good hits of the weekend

The soundtrack to a corking night at the inappropriately-named Snobs nightclub in Birmingham...

1. 'Daytripper' - The Beatles
2. 'I Wanna Be Your Dog' - The Stooges
3. 'Go With The Flow' - Queens Of The Stone Age
4. 'In Love' - The Datsuns
5. 'Jumpin Jack Flash' - The Rolling Stones
6. 'Sex Machine' - James Brown
7. 'Main Offender' - The Hives
8. 'Last Nite' - The Strokes
9. 'Can't Explain' - The Who
10. 'Panic' - The Smiths

Friday, March 07, 2003

Donald Duck-hunter

How ironic (if also predictable) that French opposition to Bush's moves towards war with Iraq has precipitated a surge of virulent anti-French feeling amongst American right-wingers. Here, for instance, you can find a few "hilarious" racist jokes, including one adapted from a comment made by the US Defence Secretary himself, loveable warmonger Donald Rumsfeld, that going to war without the French would be like going duck-hunting without an accordion. And, of course, this follows all the Republican and media references to "cheese-eating surrender monkeys". And then the same people demonstrate a complete lack of understanding of why anti-American sentiments exist in the first place. Quite staggering.
Know Your Enemy #2

By far the best email I've had in a long while - a friend on Gareth Gates:

So what it was, see, I'd had a few and then this competition comes on
the telly. The winner gets to meet Gareth Gates. To enter you have to
text in why you'd like to meet Gareth. My text: "I'd like to meet
Gareth Gates so I can fuck his stupid face up with a crowbar".
Who thinks I'll win?

Reasoned, subtle, witty...

Thursday, March 06, 2003

Word of the day

In normal circumstances the word "proactive" practically makes me wretch (like "multi-tasking" and "thinking outside the box" - it's all wanky business-speak), but I was quite happy to hear Hans Blix's adjective of choice, used to describe Iraq's recent behaviour, being bandied about freely on last night's news programmes. A spanner in the works of George 'n' Tone's well-oiled-and-ready-to-go war machine?
Criminal records

Wahey, another new feature! Please excuse the lameness of the title, and allow me to explain...

Anally retentive music lover that I am, I'm preparing a list of the ten songs which have been most influential in the direction and development of my musical tastes (ANOTHER imminent new feature!). In the meantime, in an act of humiliating semi-public self-flagellation, I thought I'd share with you those evil, evil songs which have over the years somehow found their way by stealth into my music collection, predominantly via recorded tapes, and which, if unacknowledged and accidentally chanced upon one day by some unsuspecting friend, might bring the whole carefully constructed edifice of my tastes crashing down around my ears, with all the shame and anguish that would ensue. Hopefully this will prove to be a cathartic experience. And if you find yourself tempted to laugh, mock and ridicule, then just remember - I bet you've got some horrific skeletons in your closet too.

Anyway, given I've already posted about them once today, I might as well start with...

1. 'Local Boy In The Photograph' - Stereophonics
"The new Manics", I read somewhere in 1997. At least the Manics started off as exciting, spiky, politically-charged, sloganeering, before taking a wrong turn and finding themselves flabby and prematurely middle-aged and waddling around aimlessly in an MOR muckpit. Stereophonics started off in the pit, and the muck level has just risen and risen, as correspondingly have levels of tedium among right-thinking individuals the length and breadth of the land. Let's dissect them, shall we? (Metaphorically speaking - although if anyone has access to a scalpel and knows where they live...) There's the frizzy-haired muppet with the inane grin on drums. There's the beanpole bassist who's such a dumbass that he got his name tattooed on his neck so he'd be able to remember it, and then discovered that, no matter how hard he tries, he can't actually SEE his own neck without the aid of a mirror. And lastly but not leastly, there's the poisonous little runt with the persecution complex up front. 'Local Boy In The Photograph' recounts the harrowing tale of a young lad who commits suicide by jumping under a train. Give me the three band members bound and gagged and take us to a highspeed railway line, and I'll gladly help them towards a more empathetic understanding of the situation.

(Thanks to Mike over at Troubled Diva for inspiring me to come up with some ideas, however cliched, both for waffling about music and giving a sense of structure to my ramblings)
Know Your Enemy

What will be a new regular feature, with any luck. Because everyone loves a spectacularly snide and spiteful put-down.

1. "that egregious confraternity of rhymesters"

No, not Kim Howells on So Solid Crew but in fact Thomas Love Peacock on the Lake Poets in his 1820 essay 'The Four Ages Of Poetry'.
Text message of the day

"Cheating Smoggie motherfuckers" - Paul

Well, that lacklustre no-show rather pissed on our championship chips, didn't it?

"I eat pieces of shit like you for breakfast!"

Read Olav's assessment of one of the finest films ever made.
Just cooking

According to that champion of cutting-edge sounds Kelly Jones, the forthcoming Stereophonics album (no, don't run for the hills just yet, there's a punchline coming...) features a couple of songs which are "a bit like Massive Attack, with more electronic sounds". So, that'll be the usual tough-as-old-boots meat and potatoes but with a sprig of parsley on top then?

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

Premium quality rock 'n' roll: last seen headed this way

Some of the upcoming gigs at Nottingham's Rescue Rooms which have caught my eye:

16th Mar THE KILLS
19th Apr RADIO 4

It's all good...
Quote of the day

"I'm 27 and that's the year of rock 'n' roll death. I guess I'm just going to try to get through this year without dying" - Jack White

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

Why not turn off the TV and go and do something better instead?

Why not indeed? These days, the majority of my energy seems to be expended in procrastination and avoiding anything remotely approaching productive or constructive activity. Last night (as is becoming distressingly common), I found myself unable to switch off the TV and consequently numerous pressing tasks were carelessly laid to one side as I feasted upon a smorgasbord of light entertainment, only becoming satiated and nauseous around 2.30am. To give you some idea of what was on the menu:

'Never Mind The Buzzcocks' (BBC2)
It struck me even more powerfully than ever just how indirectly proportional Phil Jupitus's wit is to his bodily mass, and as such is dwarfed by that of Bill Bailey, a man who resembles a disorientated and ever-so-slightly senile Viking.

'Shooting Stars' (BBC2)
George Dawes: "Knock knock"
Bob: "Who's there?"
George Dawes: "George"
Bob: "George who?"
George Dawes: "What, you blanking me now, eh?"
Only Vic and Bob could leave Penny Smith rolling around on the floor in a giant pigeon costume.

'V Graham Norton' (C4)
Pamela Anderson brought a touch of gravitas to proceedings by being interviewed wearing a bikini, which also left the audience and viewers in absolutely no doubt as to the attributes which have secured her lasting fame. In the second half of the show, it emerged that Duncan from elephant-loving boy band Blue suffers from a pathological fear of logs following a recurring childhood nightmare. Who says TV isn't educational?

'The Book Group' (C4)
A repeat of the last in the series, and - as ever - quite brilliant. Roll on series three.

'Classmates' (C4)
The cameras followed a reunion for the former pupils of an exclusive Surrey sixth form school. Oh how I wanted them to be uniformly twattish, arrogant and ostentatiously monied - and some of them were. But gradually I felt myself being lured into the mawkishly nostalgic love-in. TV be damned.

'Together Again' (C4)
The concept: bring a couple back face-to-face with each other years after they separated so that they can work out their relationship issues and come to some kind of closure. The reality: emotional pornography for the voyeuristic 'Big Brother'-watching curtain twitcher in all of us. Once again, I was watching despite myself.
St Bernard

After three fabulous free-flowing exhibitions of power, pace and skill, it was inevitable that sooner or later we'd have to grind out a result - and that's precisely what we did on Saturday when Chelsea were the visitors to St James's Park. Something of a bogey team for Sir Bobby, but at last he got one over them, thanks to a gutsy and determined display from the team and an excellently taken goal by Olivier Bernard following some wizardry by the returning Viana. If we can get one over the Smoggies tomorrow night - and the Riverside has been a happy hunting ground for us in the past - then we really are cooking on gas.
Quote of the day

"I do not believe in love ... I never could believe in anything I cannot experience" - D H Lawrence

Monday, March 03, 2003

Yeah Yeah Yeahs: OK

And in filed the Nottingham Socialites two by two, with their asymmetrical hairstyles and "individual" approach to clothing - for two hours, at least, they could go to Rock City safe in the knowledge that they wouldn't have to couch their enjoyment in irony or mingle with The Great Unhip. Karen O's got a lot to answer for.

OK, to the music. Whereas other cities had the pleasure of witnessing the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Ikara Colt together in an art-trash marriage made in heaven, us East Midlanders were deprived even of supposed support act Cranebuilders. Instead we had to make do with a fat moustachioed Ron Jeremy lookalike who eventually stripped to a pair of blue Y-fronts and whose stageshow consisted of lyrical muckiness, prodigious perspiration and proclamations of his own greatness at the end of every song. Yes, it could only have been Har Mar Superstar. By the end of a half-hour set, his one joke (being a parodic smuttily unwholesome male Peaches) had worn extremely thin, with a Stevie Wonder cover, new single 'Power Lunch' and a track co-written with The Faint leaving me, well, flaccid. Beck did the whole 'postmodern white-boy-does-Prince pastiche' thing with far more wit and panache on Midnite Vultures ('Debra' is a particular favourite of mine), and look what happened to him - he was crucified for it. Still, this guy's got guts (as well as a large gut) - ritual humiliation every night must be hard to take.

If only the Yeah Yeah Yeahs had been as unequivocally and resoundingly good as their moniker promises. The 'Master' EP remains for me one of the best singles of last year, and they rampaged through all five tracks. On first listen 'Bang' and 'Our Time' in particular sounded brilliantly fresh, announcing the arrival of an exciting new talent - and live they were thrillingly primal and raw. 'Art Star', though, lost what (admittedly) little subtlety it has on record. Karen O might have an, ahem, "unique" vocal style, but she was a magnetic presence onstage, one minute with her hands on hips, the next bouncing up and down shrieking lines like "As a fuck, son, you suck" over tribal drumbeats and the abrasive arty Blues Explosion riffs of Nick Zinner, who looks like William Reid of The Jesus & Mary Chain if he'd been locked in a cupboard without food for a week. But the suspicion persists that the new material due to appear on forthcoming album Fever To Tell isn't quite in the same league as the likes of 'Miles Away' and 'Machine', and playing 'Our Time' as the single encore song simply underlined my feeling - it might well be their time to be hated, but, with just two singles under their belt, it's not their time to be trying to blow people away as headliners in Rock City's main room, especially when they don't seem to know how to end any of their songs. You've got to learn to crawl before you learn to walk.

Thursday, February 27, 2003

Mariah: Christ!

According to the official Sonic Youth website, the band have recorded a new song for a split 7" single with Erase Errata, to be released on Narnack Records. Details are scant, apart from the fact that Kim takes vocal duties and that "it's a rocker folks, so be prepared". Oh, and the track's called 'Mariah Carey And The Arthur Doyle Hand Cream' - proof positive that old punks never die, and no matter how far and often they might threaten to disappear up their own arses, they never lose their sense of humour either.

Two more very readable blogs to have caught my attention:

Hipster Detritus
Little Red Boat
Bye bye Bayer

Last night we put a very sorry and shambolic Bayer Leverkusen side to the sword for the second time in a week, this time the damage being inflicted by the returning Shearer who filled his boots with a first half hat-trick. He's coming up on the rails to overtake Hughie Gallagher as the club's third highest ever goalscorer, now just two behind. Dyer was once again bursting with energy and Ameobi skillful and tricky, while Speed controlled the midfield with ease and Kerr put in a good shift on the right. The tenacious tackling of Griffin, Bramble and Bernard also deserves a mention. It's all still in our hands, but thanks to Inter's draw with Barcelona we really can't afford defeat in Milan in two weeks' time - a tall order, but not impossible given the current spirit and will to win which will hopefully prove a valuable asset during Saturday's crucial league match against Chelsea.

From one legend, Shearer, to another, Sir Bobby Robson, whose life and career in football was celebrated in a BBC1 documentary on Tuesday night. This was fascinating partly as an insight into life inside the club, but mainly as a reminder of the 70-year-old's achievements in the game. Any manager receiving plaudits from Figo, Ronaldo and van Nistelrooy deserves great credit. The overall tone may have been hagiographical, but then I wouldn't have had it any other way. One of my favourite comments was Freddie Shepherd's observation that he's only seen Bobby speechless once, on the coach on the way back from an away match when a distressed Kieron Dyer suddenly blurted out, "We'll have to go back - I've left my earring in the dressing room". Bobby turned to Shepherd and, shaking his head, said, "You see what I have to work with?" His humour shone through even when discussing his brush with serious illness - upon being told he had a malignant melanoma in his face, he quipped, "I had no idea what that was. I thought he was talking about a right half from Bayern Munich". Long may he prosper at St James's.

(Apologies to the uninterested for the amount of my blog devoted to football-related matters in recent weeks, but you have to excuse me - it really is a great time to be a Newcastle fan and it's imperative that I crow about our current form as much as possible before it all goes horribly wrong...)
Satire: not dead

It seems that elephant-loving Lee Ryan of popular boy band Blue has penned an anti-war song.

(Thanks to Popjustice for the link)

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Lyric-that's-stuck-in-my-head-and-refusing-to-leave Of The Day

"I had seven faces / Thought I knew which one to wear; / I'm sick of spending these lonely nights / Training myself not to care"
'NYC' - Interpol
Black marks for The White Stripes?

According to this link old Jacky White could be in a spot of bother for borrowing lines from the cinematic classic 'Citizen Kane' for the track 'The Union Forever' from last album White Blood Cells. The news has destroyed much of the mystique of the song for me - once I'd progressed from playing 'Hotel Yorba' and 'Fell In Love With A Girl' on repeat to listening to the whole album (and it took a while), it was the spoken-word rant in the middle of 'The Union Forever' that really captivated my attention.

(Thanks to Deviated Septum for the link)

Monday, February 24, 2003

Dyer straits

Revenge is sweet. Another fabulous performance on Saturday to crush Leeds 3-0 without ever seeming to move out of cruise control, avenge an unjust 2-0 defeat at home earlier in the season, and cap a fantastic week for the club. Many more results like this, and we'll have to start hoping Arsenal and not Man Utd or Chelsea slip up.
Feel good hits of the weekend

The soundtrack to the best weekend I can remember:

1. 'Feel Good Hit Of The Summer' - Queens Of The Stone Age
2. 'Party Hard' - Andrew WK
3. 'Harmonic Generator' - The Datsuns
4. 'Cochise' - Audioslave
5. 'Teenage Riot' - Sonic Youth
6. 'This Charming Man' - The Smiths
7. 'Little Argument With Myself' - Low
8. 'NYC' - Interpol
9. 'Relax' - Frankie Goes To Hollywood
10. 'April Skies' - The Jesus & Mary Chain

When 'Feel Good Hit Of The Summer' started up in Rock City at around 1am on Saturday night, I was transported into a Dionysian frenzy and really did lose my mind for a few minutes. You should try it, it's refreshing.

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Bobby dazzler

A fantastic Champions' League win in Germany last night, and three much-needed points. OK, so Bayer Leverkusen were abysmal and we showed a little naivety at times (especially Bramble and Jenas) - but don't let that detract from the first-half performance which won us the match. In the absence of Shearer and Bellamy, Ameobi and Lua Lua were brilliant - pacy, powerful, tricky, skillful, and far too much for a feeble Leverkusen defence to deal with. Although they can count themselves unlucky that the first-choice duo are likely to step back into the team for Saturday's trip to Leeds, as a fan it's reassuring to know that we have some talented firepower on the bench.

Happy birthday Sir Bobby.

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Reading between the lines

I'm fast becoming a bibliophile-phile. Although I missed 'The Book Group' on Friday, I got to see the repeat last night - quite possibly the best episode yet. Absolutely brilliant, and worth watching for two things alone: the expression of glee and delight on Rab's face when he got to visit a farm, and the scene where Dirka and Fist were trying on dresses to show off their 'bumps'. As ever, the tension between Claire and Kenny was electric, and James Lance as Lachlan was fantastic - particularly his delivery of the line, "I need a poo".

Mike is once again indulging in his fondness for interactive blog fun by asking: Which Decade Is Tops For Pops? Get yourself over to Troubled Diva for more details, and remember - every vote counts!

Three fine weblogs to have caught my eye lately:

Deviated Septum
This Is Not An Exit
The Yes / No Interlude

Check them out, if you haven't done so already.
Birthday greetings

Congratulations to everyone's favourite wizened white-haired miracle-worker Sir Bobby Robson, who today celebrates becoming a septagenarian, and also to his dynamic midfield prodigy Jermaine Jenas, 20 today. A Champions' League victory over Leverkusen in Germany tonight would be the icing on their cakes...

Monday, February 17, 2003

Kings of the Stone Age

And so it came to pass that I enjoyed Saturday night rock thrills courtesy of Night With No Name. I arrived at Rock City a bit later than anticipated, just in time to see first band Phoenix Down finishing up. So, there I was, soaking up the forthcoming Burning Brides album (a cheeky bit of promotion for their upcoming NWNN gig, Mr DJ!) and wondering how the hell Rock City manage to make their Pepsi taste so fucking awful, when on came one of the oddest bands I've seen in a long while, Dureforsog (there are a couple of umlauts in there somewhere). Even three days on, I'm still not entirely sure what I made of them. They're Danish fruitloops, and played a sort of elasticated and surrealist post-punk, the singer wandering around in a daze clutching a bunch of balloons and howling intermittently. It might just be that I've been listening to Q And Not U lately, but they're the only band that even vaguely sprang to mind. The prevailing emotion amongst the audience was, I think, bewilderment.

Headline act Cave In, an unusual band in themselves, were an altogether more comprehensible prospect. This, I think, was especially evident in the material showcased from forthcoming record (and major label debut) Antenna. Tracks like 'Anchor', 'Youth Overrided' and 'Penny Racer' show that they've come a long way since their hardcore screamo days, and it's not that hard to see why Dave Grohl likes them so much - these songs are fairly short, fairly straightforward, muscular and melodic, following on from the likes of 'Brain Candle' from last full-length album Jupiter. But, it has to be said, not all that impressive. Fellow newies 'Joy Opposites' and 'Inspire' (Stephen Brodsky was begged for this by an internet bootlegger at the front) are more wholesome, but, for sheer depth and density, 'Come Into Your Own', 'Dark Driving' (both from last year's Tides Of Tomorrow mini-LP) and last year's single 'Lost In The Air' are a class apart. These longer drawn-out affairs are when Cave In are at their most interesting, because it's here that they really play with fire, performing almost impossible pirhouettes between post-hardcore and prog, and consequently it's here that the threat of failure and collapse is most real. Sure, sometimes it doesn't work, and the call to suspend disbelief goes unheeded - but then you can't fault them for being ambitious and audacious. Fittingly, the encore of 'Big Riff' steals the show, alternately drifting and bulldozing like all their best material, loud enough to leave me to stagger outside with a buzzing static headache. There are perhaps only two other bands that I've heard in the last year or so who are performing the same inventive experiments on rock and who actually ROCK: Queens Of The Stone Age and Sparta.

(Spooky coincidence: bassist Caleb Scofield was wearing the same F-Minus T-shirt (green lettering with a green AK-47 underneath) as guitarist Aaron North from practically the last band I saw in Rock City's Disco II, The Icarus Line. And I was wearing the Icarus Line T-shirt I bought at that gig...)
Secrets and lies

I've just finished Donna Tartt's 'The Secret History', and, rather like the last work of pure fiction I read, J G Ballard's 'Super-Cannes', it's the sort of taxing thriller that doesn't make you feel like reading it is an insult to your intelligence. Indeed, in the discussions of the civilisation and language of Ancient Greece, 'The Secret History' is actually quite intellectual, perhaps at times irritatingly so. The story, though, is darkly engrossing and Tartt's writing enchanting and powerful. Another Christmas book purchase vindicated!
Sorry Mr Jackson

Michael, Michael, Michael. I'm sure that, after the indignity of the documentary and all the ensuing fallout about what a freakish caricature you really are, you're feeling rather vindictive and spiteful - but searching for "martin bashir PUNCHED" via Google is not the answer and will bring only short-term relief and satisfaction.