Friday, January 29

Hello, Goodbye, Hello?

Reality truly is smothering primetime television for all we know it more than ever these days. Heck, I catch up on most of my TV via my computer, yet it's still staggeringly tough to snub. I mean, Popstar to Operastar? What kind of schlemiel thought of that tosh? And what sort of schmuck at ITV1 cleared it?! Probably the same schmo that greenlit This Is David Gest, come to think of it.

So we've Operastar come Fridays, So You Think You Can Dance doing Saturdays and Dancing on Ice closing the weekend on Sundays - all while The X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing are off on their hols. Inordinate doesn't do it justice.

Still and all, this season's Celebrity Big Brother has been little less than tremendous. Its ample assortment of housemates, shrewd editing of its highlights and gosh-darn addictive viewing have jerked it right back to its glory days. Stephen Baldwin steadily converting Alex Reid to Christianity was about the best thing on British TV since David Brent went on a blind date.

With all that in mind, I'll be sorry to see CBB decamp. Well, until about 2014 when it returns in the company of next year's Strictly winner and an extra-disgraced Chris Brown.

Kanye West 'Big Brother'

Tuesday, January 26

We're In This Together

Football fans. AKA idiocy at its most idiotic. The lowest of the low. Well, the latter may be stretching it a smidgen, but as one who goes and sees his favourite team every other week (often even away from home), it's fair to say a good deal of these species are in actuality quite vomitous beings.

Namely, the 'supporters' of my club, Manchester United to the rest of the globe, often chant "murderers, murderers" to a local rival over their scandalous past. They throw homophobic remarks to the same rival's (straight) star striker. And they've wished death upon their own side's owner ever since he plunged them £600m in the red when he took over in 05.

Of course not all who visit Old Trafford are like this. I'm lucky enough not to sit in the Stretford End, where the lion's share of these putzes and their beer-noxious breaths are situated. "Glazers out, Glazers out", "We love United, we hate Glazer" and said-death rally explicit in actual slaying method reared their ugly tunes around the stadium last weekend. It was embarrassing at the very least.

Sure, recent reports of the club's economic woe are worrying. But Manchester United are Manchester United for a reason. Not only by way of their riches on the pitch, but as a business they are one of the best run corporations in the West.

They were once a public limited company, so someone was always gonna snap 'em up off the market. So that someone is a New Yorker and put them straight into a big fat debt in the process of acquisition. So in the first few years Manchester United win everything under the sun and bossman Sir Alex gets as much £ as he wants for improvements.

So into 2009 and the world's in financial meltdown, the Glazer family opt to pay off their debt by raising a 'bond' issue. And so it continues, United looking ahead to more success and more improvements if Fergie sees fit, still run on absolute stability.

Is playing the Grim Reaper to Mr Glazer really gonna file in harmony with this plan of financial restoration? Or is it gonna spawn total chaotic division a la Newcastle/Liverpool and fund the latter and co (and the press) with a nice bit of ammo?

"The danger, as I see it, is that we could be presented as being split which would be harmful and inaccurate because I believe the vast majority of Manchester United supporters are behind us," says Sir Alex. "That is what we are about - or at least what we should be about. We must remain loyal to the cause of Manchester United."

I don't wanna have to go to Old Trafford every other week and shut my ears to the ignorant, foolishness of the many thousands' sick little chants. I mean, I get that football fans as a specie won't change until civilisation itself grows up. But it'd be nice to believe that these morons are intelligent enough to realise that by accepting and getting behind the wholeness of Manchester United (including Mr Glazer), there will only be one winner.

Nine Inch Nails 'We're In This Together'

Sunday, January 24

We Are What We Hear

It could be that I've a (healthy) fetish with Jake Gyllenhaal movies. It could be that Coldplay are my all-time most-favourite band. Or, it could be that I'd rather tongue one of GaGa's Kermit dollies than nip the froth of a pint of ale. But I, in sooth, am really rather delicate. And, as Edinburgh's Heroit-Watt University corroborated, we are our music and our music is us.

Schmaltzy guitars, poignant words, rich melodies. Ahhhh, paradise on MP3. Sufjan Stevens' 'Chicago' - the ACOUSTIC rendition - is pretty much an out-and-out instance of such. Now I ain't saying it's a cut above the original, that'd be like alleging The Office is inferior to its US upshot. But it's fucking up there - just like the US Office.

Thereby in observance of all this mellifluous splendour, pick up your copy below.

And in acknowledgement of the recent devastating earthquake in Haiti, watch CP's Chris Martin and Beyoncé perform her 'Halo' from yesterday's telethon. An unbelievably gratifying execution put forward out of extremely unfortunate events.

'Chicago (Acoustic)'

Thursday, January 21

Let's Make Time Work For Us

Sir Alex Ferguson, Johnny Carson and Seinfeld. What do football's most powerful kingpin, The Tonight Show's longest-serving host and TV Guide's greatest programme of all time share? Time. That's right, the indefinite continued progress of existence.

Of course Fergie's nearer the doorway than the approach, Johnny is literally not "heeeere" and Seinfeld only exists in its co-creator's own telecast. But Ferguson was given four seasons before picking up silverware, Carson took more than a decade prior to winning an Emmy and Seinfeld didn't nab its US-shattering ratings until well into its fourth year.

However, as Carson and Seinfeld's former network NBC has recently proven, time is no longer on the sides of the untapped talent. For me, Conan O'Brien is that gut-busting geek with the as-comic mane, yet unfortunately this is the 21st century. And nasty networks, big-fat corporations and horrid society want it now, now, now.

Higher than high-speed broadband, 3D TV, life-musing in 140 characters. The Western world is a movin', derrr. Exciting? You bet, though not if NBC opts to drop Conan after under eight months in the job. It could be argued that the second ex-and-now-rehired Tonight Show host Jay Leno decided, 'You know what? Think I'll stick around after all', the Boston-Irish emcee only had little chance to impress. But if the three specimens above needed good time to dazzle, what exactly was NBC asking for?

The sad factor in all this rapid-motioning burble of expectancy, is that a football manager will never be given four years for the right result to come along. And a TV sitcom that fails to flee after its first few eps - not even seasons - will no way get today's time to breathe.

So, no more Sir Alex Fergusons? No more Johnny Carsons? No more Seinfelds?! 'Fraid not. Today we have Pep Guardiola, FC Barcelona's bossman who won everything in his first year, leaving little elsewhere to go. And we have Glee, which has picked up a Golden Globe after five months on the air, raising nothing but shear anticipation on its follow-up seasons. If we start off via such success, surely there's only one direction to head in.

NBC, there is a reason you hired ol' Coco for The Tonight Show. Fair enough, bastard advertisers are pressing your finances like Dappy up against an anti-N-Dubz club. But whatever happened to perseverance?

The Maccabees 'Precious Time'

Tuesday, January 19

Is There Anyone So Alone?

Look, we already know that Benjamin Gibbard is a lyrical genius. A bona fide poet. The best songwriter since Robby Z. Or something.

And while I was running my ears over the ol' DCfC discog the other day, I came across one number I hadn't heard in some time. 'This Temporary Life' to be unambiguous, taken from 2004 benefit compilation 'Future Soundtrack for America'.

Musically, it's fucking brilliant. And lyrically? Even better. Just imagine you've moved to a whole new city all on your own, without a single soul to swear by. "You may ask yourself, 'Is there anyone so alone?' But there's no beep before the dial tone... And you're wondering whose bright idea it was to pack your things and leave your friends and move down here."

Ingenious, forsaken, sad. Just like I like 'em. Having a bad day and want instant happiness?

'This Temporary Life'

Sunday, January 17

Funeral For Shout And Twist*

Arcade Fire, The Arcade Fire. It's Arcade Fire. This we know. Arcade Fire are a very, very good band. This we also know. But are Arcade Fire, this very, very good band, still to make a great album? This I say so... UPDATE: This I do not say so. 'Funeral', their debut album, is in fact a great album.

See, what I originally began prepping as a post about the overestimation attached to Arcade Fire, has now shifted into an unmitigated love-in re 'Funeral'. While I was researching the record in order to back up my claim, I came to the conclusion that there are only two or three (and not five or six) tracks that are almost perfect. The rest, I say with some ignominy, is perfect.

So really this is a post about listening back to those so-called classics you weren't so sure about the first time around. And coming out the other end with lots of egg on your face. Still, I'm happy I was wrong.

*Purely in the case of the album name, of course.

DL the best song on 'Funeral' that wasn't a single
'Une Année Sans Lumiere'

Friday, January 15

Novocaine For The Ears

So there's this splendid series on HBO (obviously) which is called In Treatment and is about a therapist (Gabriel Byrne) who, well, treats his patients. And at the close of every ep, these startling and bewitching sounds roll in, all tempestuous and stuff. The show's music composer is called Richard Marvin, who also worked on Six Feet Under and, more puzzling, that God-awful Bruce Willis movie Surrogates. However, unless I'm willing to cough up £7.99 of my iTunes vouchers on some high-strung action burble, it appears that you and, more importantly, I am not gonna get to hear these beautiful rackets. In other words, Google ain't producing the goods.

Which all pretty much leads to this. The nearest thing I can get to Richard Marvin is Jimmy LaValle, aka The Album Leaf. At least his 'The Light', taken from fourth album 'Into the Blue Again', sounds like it could accompany In Treatment. Heck, Wiki says Michelle Obama even used it.

DL below. Tis scrumptious.

The Album Leaf 'The Light'

Monday, January 11

One More Big Thing For 2010 - Sad Brad Smith

So I've now watched and inspected pretty much all the movies that are 'rumoured' to be in line for Oscar noms come February, such is my excitement for the damn thing. And I've gotta say, only Jason Reitman's 'Up in the Air' really dazzled me. 'Precious', 'The Lovely Bones', 'Nine'? Don't swallow the hype. But more on all that in a later post...

This entry marks the charming wonderment of Sad Brad Smith, whose 'Help Yourself' almost stole the thunder of George Clooney's showing in 'Air'. A Chicagoan singer songwriter with an ear for drop-dead chord progressions and lonesome musings, the hearsay has it that Reitman actually discovered SBS himself. What a story. And no doubt, what a beginning.

Saturday, January 9

Next Big Thing For 2010 #5 - Band Of Skulls

So, three Southamptonites form a band at college, make their debut LP in Radiohead's Oxford studio and head out on a US jaunt opening for Passion Pit. Yet all such went down under the radar, so to speak. Good thing 'Twilight' helmer Chris Weitz knew of 'em, enough to stick their semi-rock rampant 'Friends' on the 'New Moon' OST - where I chanced upon them. What with presently the globe's hottest film franchise ticked off and all, more will surely see them now.

Best Track

Thursday, January 7

Next Big Thing For 2010 #4 - King Charles

Plainly more affable than the 'Prince' edition, west London's King Charles is for all one knows next in line to the folk-pop sovereignty already scooped by the likes of Laura Marling, Noah And The Whale and Mumford & Sons. Why do I surmise this? 'Cause he's BFF with all of 'em and his ditty 'Time Of Eternity' is misfittingly sheer radiance. Jeez, this King needs crowning.

Best Track
'Time Of Eternity'

Tuesday, January 5

Next Big Thing For 2010 #3 - To My Boy

As a matter of course, To My Boy are not by any means a 'new' band. This Scouse-based twosome (and their MacBook) set free a first 'lectro-pop endeavour all the way back in 2007 via XL spinoff Abeano. And a mighty fine shot it was, although not according to the kindly hype engine. But if the fresh 'Us + The Wind' is anything to go by, 2010 could well mutate 'em from boys to men.

Best Track
'Us + The Wind'

Sunday, January 3

Next Big Thing For 2010 #2 - Internet Forever

Already a noted favourite of Shout And Twist, Internet Forever are hastily fashioning themselves a nice hunk of hype. Of course with choons 'Break Bones' and 'Cover The Wall' pelting down sugary guitar nuggets and dulcet, skipping strains, it'd be dead fallacious any other way. Want instant happiness? Befriend these.

Best Track
'Cover The Walls'

Friday, January 1

Next Big Thing For 2010 #1 - The Middle East

Not just the literal centrepiece of religious activism and vanloads of crude oil, but Down Under's rosiest disciples since Hugh Jackman in the first X-Men. From what I can tell, there's six of The Middle East and Wikipedia reckons they've split up once already. A messy band divorce sorta makes sense given the sweet, docile acoustic spells of sensitivity gushing out of their songs 'Blood' and 'The Darkest Side'. Let's hope they keep it together, though. We could do with one of these.

Best Track