Saturday, August 28

Say "Astronaut" #15

From 'The Couch' (S6E5)

Radiohead 'Sit Down, Stand Up (Snakes & Ladders)'

Saturday, August 21

Say "Astronaut" #14

From 'The Letter' (S3E21)

British Sea Power 'It Ended On An Oily Stage'

Sunday, August 15

The Best Songs Ever Whenever Ever Is

Some songs are so good they can make an entire album. Some songs are so good they can make an entire career. And some songs are so good they can feel like nothing has ever beaten or is ever likely to beat it. It is these which I've whittled down my iTunes to, the ten best songs ever whenever is. Songs that the first time you heard them you remember exactly where you were and what you were doing, and just for a second thought, 'You know what, this is the greatest song ever'. These are all so good, I still think that about a few of 'em...

10. Oasis 'Stand By Me' -
Yes, I am aware that this is not from Brother Gallaghers' first two efforts. But I'm not alleging that 'Be Here Now' is a better record (though it is still unfairly lambasted), I'm just saying that the anthemy and mountainousness lodged within 'Stand By Me' so rightly parallels Oasis' standing at the time - plus its name - it defines them more than any other.

9. Stereophonics 'Just Looking' -
When I first got into proper music, these were actually quite happening. And 'Just Looking' comes from their second album 'Performance And Cocktails', itself an unfailing piece of indie. But the track's stirring chords, singer Kelly Jones' honeyed croak, the constancy of discontent it possesses - it just couldn't not be included. Perfect.

8. Bloc Party 'Helicopter' -
Though this may be the second-most recent number in this list, it still seems like ages ago if you take into account Kele Okereke's solo outing. Time was, Bloc Party fizzled with gassy effects pedals and professionally amateur vocals, 'Helicopter' being the greatest example of such. Kele's denied it relating to George W. Bush, saying it's actually on him.

7. Muse 'Time Is Running Out' -
It's only fair that THE band of superlative stadium chorales get a mention, right? Just when I thought it was all downhill post-'Plug In Baby', they came out all-woolly-synths-blazing to tear up the nation. Well, embezzle near-unlawful play-time on MTV2, rather. The tearing up the nation came a couple records later.

6. Foo Fighters 'The Best Of You' -
The best revenge is thought by many to live well. Not Dave Grohl, however, who would prefer his ex to have 'someone take her faith', just like she him. It, too, opens first with a vocal, a ploy that works wonders when meeting its as-raw, forthright guitars. By the 37th play, I'll admit, I wavered, but it's still the best Foo Fighters song. Ever, ever, ever.

5. Morning Runner 'Burning Benches' -
I'm not sure I'll ever get over these splitting after just one LP - and a mighty brilliant LP at that. Yet I'll always have 'Burning Benches', the definition of sentimental. Sentimental obsession and love and heartache, that is. Sadly, Morning Runner may only be known in future for soundtracking hit-but-mostly-miss 'comedy' 'The Inbetweeners'.

4. Death Cab for Cutie 'Transatlanticism' -
Well, derrr. The first of two of DCfC's to feature, 'Transatlanticism's title track is, to call a spade a spade, the finest love song of them all. "I need you so much closer," Ben Gibbard recurrently murmurs atop drop-dead keys and a clobbering beat. And if you don't bawl for the distance, forget about that living thing.

3. Coldplay 'We Never Change' -
One of the most overlooked Coldplay gems - and there are a few - 'We Never Change' is, like, only the sweetest thing on 'Parachutes'. Chris Martin goes: "I wanna live life and always be true... I sin every single day." It's sincere by way of an acoustic-steered stripped-down ambience. Naive hope with an honest bullet. Or something.

2. Hope Of The States 'Enemies/Friends'-
Another uber-accomplished band who withered away in amongst all the relative hype, Sam Herlihy's men carried 'Enemies/Friends' like they were the forefathers of soft rock. But boy did they have rights to. It is one of the best pieces of music ever written in the history of man. Sorry, but it just is.

1. Death Cab for Cutie 'Tiny Vessels' -
I'm not even sure I can listen to this ever again. Not only because I've played it to utter death, but it's so confessional and so ingenuous and so ashamed, it's almost too much to bear. "I wanted to believe in all the words that I was speaking as we moved together in the dark, and all the friends that I was telling and all the playful misspellings and every bite I gave you left a mark." Gibbard uses 'Tiny Vessels' to lay it all out there, his regrets over the 'man' he once was and the empty promises he was making. He gets more heated and repentant as the tales of cheap sex and spurned love linger on, all the while there's a deep ocean of battering drums and trembling strings dispensing below. "Yeah, you are beautiful, but you don't mean a thing to me." About as bitter as they come, but about the best song ever whenever ever was or is.

Friday, August 13

Feeling Good

I'll be honest. About two months ago, I was pretty worried. The dissenting undercurrent around Old Trafford every other week was being fuelled by an increasing mob of bandwagon-jumpers and those fundamentally foolish green and yellow scarves. We were effectively one fit Wayne Rooney away from not losing to Chelsea and Bayern Munich at home within four days and progressing further in the competitions that really matter, however concluded with merely the Carling Cup. And yes, we'd pre-brought in some unknown Mexican striker, who was at one point linked to going back out on loan, and Fulham's Chris Smalling, who spent the latter half of their Europa League final-making season on the bench, but that sense of longing for a fresh August... it just wasn't there. For the first time in four years, who knew where we headed?
But then something kinda special happened. Said-Mexican striker scored in the World Cup against France in a 2-0 win. And then he scored again, this time against Argentina. Mexico stumbled, but Hernández, or Chicharito, impressed. A week following the World Cup final, United started their pre-season tour of North America by beating Celtic 3-0, a game in which Berbatov and Tom Cleverly, who last year was Watford's player of the year, shined. Chicharito joined up a short while later, only to net in every single one of the friendlies he played, including against Chelsea in the Community Shield. Not since you-know-who in the summer of 2003 has their been this kind of buzz about a new signing. He, too, has a constant sweet smile spread across his face, channelling a confident, positive mood about him.
It's infectious as well. In fact, so much so that Nani and Valencia WILL improve on their decent second halves of last season, Van Der Sar/Scholes/Giggs/Neville WILL continue to defy age, Rafael/Fabio WILL learn how to defend, Rio/Hargreaves/Rooney WILL stay injury-free, Berbatov WILL have a great season... and I could go on and on. But there's a buoyancy about United now that wasn't there at the end of last season, I think - things are looking up.
When Kanchelskis, Ince and Hughes departed in 1995, in came Scholes, Beckham and Neville. And Beckham in 2003, Ronaldo. And Ronaldo in 2008, Chicharito? But really, there's only ever one man to look to, and that's the greatest boss of them all.

Muse 'Feeling Good'

Tuesday, August 10

Say "Astronaut" #13

From 'The Kiss Hello' (S6E17)

The Cribs 'Hello? Oh...'

Saturday, August 7

Great Expectation

I will declare this and declare this only. Not since the summer of 2003 have I felt this kind of anticipation surrounding a new player. End of communiqué.

Tilly & The Wall 'Too Excited'

Wednesday, August 4

Please Simon Amstell, Never Let Me Down

I LOVE Simon Amstell. So much so that I included him in my Top 10 Funniest Comedy-Types Ever last year. No. 9 he made. But if he is to venture up near the likes of Sacha Baron Cohen and Larry Charles, he needs no slips. No 'Extras'. No 'Date Night'. And no 'Green Green Grass'. Man, I really need to revise that list!

But still, Simon Amstell is yet to upset me. In fact, a part of me doesn't even wanna try his new BBC Two series 'Grandma's House'. A part of me wants Amstell retired now. I don't want to have to deal with the misery of seeing his artistic integrity compromised. He, above any apart from Sacha Baron Cohen, is the funniest funnyman in all of England.

So please Simon Amstell, please let 'Grandma's House' be your 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'.

Kanye West feat. Jay-Z 'Never Let Me Down'

Monday, August 2

The Greatest Macher?

My people* are an apt people. But who's the greatest of them all? Listing off the contenders would just come across bumptious, but I will nominate a Robert Allen Zimmerman from Duluth, Minnesota for the title. There's 34 studio albums why, though obviously not all as prodigious as 'The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan' or 'The Times They Are a-Changin''. The track I am promoting, however, is from the former. Download, lie down, close your eyes and listen. And there's just no competition...

Bob Dylan 'Don't Think Twice, It's All Right'

*Needless to say when I say "my people", it is by proud label only. I am way too perceptive to believe in such a ludicrous hypothesis as religion. Derrr.

Sunday, August 1

Album Of Last Month

Mystery Jets 'Serotonin' (Rough Trade)

"Lunch is for wimps," uttered Michael Douglas in some late 80s movie about the abundance of big business. And all because Gordon Gekko was too busy. Too hard-pressed and eager to eat. And today, in a society in which we're not used to waiting around, there are probably more Gekkos than ever. No time for actual detail, just bitesized news via uber-speed net on our multi-zippy phones with speed dials for pre-packaged sandwiches delivered within seconds. And on which are playlists of songs, no filler, but pure golden nugget after the other. So thank fuck for Mystery Jets. Here, with their third effort 'Serotonin', they've given credence to the concept of patience - and the belief that it is actually possible to get better with age.
Opener 'Alice Springs' goes ahead with an unhurried aerospace of comeliness, its swishing keys transiting singer Blaine Harrison's idyllic tale, "Better to have loved and lost then to have lived and never loved anyone". Then with a minute to go it springs into some all-out polyphony of greatness. And it's here you can tell this album's gonna go somewhere.
Also worth mentioning is 'Flash A Hungry Smile', which takes the band's hobbyhorse with the 80s to a whole other level. Though this time there's more meaty cohesion, Harrison pondering: "Have you heard the birds and bees have all got STDs?" It's indie summery beauty with a smile.
And 'Waiting On A Miracle' is perhaps about as reflective as it gets, as a Duran Duran echo-thud thing sets off a mopey ambience of wholesomeness.
So see, serenity may no longer be the poster boy for civilisation, but Mystery Jets needed to make two albums to get to this place. And 'Serotonin' is so glorious, it's golden nugget after golden nugget...

Best Track
Waiting On A Miracle (Available from your local record store/website!)