Wednesday, 25 November 2009


Obligatory decade in review thingy. It’s not really in any order from #4 onwards. And I’ve not really given it much thought to be fair.

1. At The Drive-in – Relationship of Command (first MP3 I downloaded as well, from Napster. One song took about 30 minutes)
2. Wolf Parade – Apologies To The Queen Mary (would be pretty much perfect if they dropped ‘The Same Ghost Every Night’)
3. Arcade Fire – Funeral (I sort of associate them more as a live band in my mind now, but I listened to this on a daily basis for ages)
4. Animal Collective – Feels (see! I don’t just like ‘guitar’ music)
5. The Thermals – The Body The Blood The Machine (please play ‘Returning To The Fold’ at my funeral)
6. The Strokes – Is This It (snapped me out of NuMetal, and I’m still wearing Converse)
7. Bright Eyes – Lifted, Or The Story Is In The Soil Keep Your Ear To The Ground (great soundtrack to failing at things – mope!)
8. Deerhunter – Microcastle (makes me want to take up long-distance running)
9. The National – Boxer (sometimes, when I’m hungover, I put it on loud-ish and just lie down on the living room floor listening to this)
10. The Unicorns – Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone (this is quite a weird record isn’t it?)
11. Joanna Newsome – The Milk Eyed Mender (reminds me of staying up too late in a non-party way)
12. Mclusky – Do Dallas (angry, funny, from Cardiff)

Side notes and disclaimers: I’m currently listening to Deerhunter’s Cryptograms and thinking I may prefer it to Microcastle, and The National’s Aligator deserves some form of mention. I loved White Blood Cells by The White Stripes for ages, but I’ve not listened to it in years now. Love all The Shins’ albums as well. Looking back at the list and the ones I still listen to the most are The Thermals and The National albums, so maybe they should win? I don’t know.

Stay tuned for Top 10 Pizzas of the 00s! (Only joking)

EDIT: I keep remembering other brilliant albums that I've forgotten all about:

1. And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead - Source Tags & Codes
2. Interpol - Turn On The Bright Lights
3. Oxford Collapse - Bits and/or A Good Ground
4. Panda Bear - Person Pitch
5. Britsh Sea Power - The Decline Of

I'll probably keep topping this up as I think about it.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

What I Did On My Holidays - Edinburgh

My first visit to Edinburgh and indeed Scotland. Had annual leave that needed using up by the year’s end, friends to visit, and I found some cheap flights. It was all systems go. Edinburgh has amazing links from the airport to the city centre. A 24 hour service that operates on a ‘bus every 10 minutes’ time scale for most of the day. This was flabbergasting, especially after having experienced Cardiff’s town to airport links (one bus an hour if you’re lucky, or a train an hour plus shuttle bus from train platform to airport). Met my friend and he took me to a nice pub called Cloisters. We had this really nice beer called Munich Red which is brewed by the West brewery – they brew all their beers to the German Beer Purity standard. It came in a thick glass with a handle. We had other beers as well, but that was the one I remember.

On Friday I had most of the day to myself, so I mainly wandered. Felt a bit self conscious at my constant A-Z referring but once I’d taken a couple of wrong turns it stopped bothering me so much. The architecture of the city is amazing! I spent most of my walk looking skywards at the buildings. Do a Google Streetview on random streets in Edinburgh and you’ll see what I mean. I had a look at the Scottish Parliament, which I didn’t think was as nice a building as the National Assembly for Wales’ Senedd building, and I stopped in at their National Museum but none of the exhibitions really appealed to me (just had a coffee in the cafĂ© instead). Then I headed over to the National Portrait Gallery which was good. Lots of Titian’s and other famous types, lots of pictures of Jesus. There was a small room of Impressionist stuff which I really liked. I love how vivid they were, and the way they used the paint in a textural way. There was another room with pictures of Britain in, including one of the old West Gate at Cardiff, but it was drawn a good few hundred years ago so I didn’t really recognise specifically where it was. Then I met up with my friends and we had really nice beer and burgers at a smartish pub called 9A Hollyrood (or maybe Hollyrood 9A), and then we went to watch Japandroids. There was 1 good local-ish support band, whose name I’ve forgotten. Bronto Skyway maybe? They were good. Then after the bands we stayed at the clubnight for long enough to decide it wasn’t great, so we went home and watched Pet Cemetery instead.

On Saturday we lazed about a bit, and then my friends showed me around the city a bit. We went to a farmers market, tasted some nice stuff, and we walked up the hill to see the castle. We had tasty soup in a nice bistro-ish place (but I had to pick the courgettes out). After tea we headed back into town for a Ghost Tour of some of the underground bits of the city (via Starbucks, not usually a fan but those Gingerbread Lattes are well nice). It was quite interesting historically, all these old tunnels where people actually lived. The guide talked about how haunted they were and the bad things that had happened to people who’d gone on the tour. At one point we had to stand in the pitch black for 15 seconds, then some THING ran out going “AAAARGH!!!!!!!” at us (it was a man). After the tour an American lady claimed something stroked her thigh (she wishes!). It was good fun, despite some ‘too cool for school’ types trying to spoil it with their giggling and turning mobile phone lights on. Then we had a few pints in a cinema’s bar and talked about how ace the Coen Brothers are.

Sunday! We went to this little art gallery and looked at some stuff that was all based around pencil drawings. Some of them were dead good. Then we wandered into the ‘Newtown’ bit which is well posh, and had 3 different but tasty ales in a nice pub. Then we went back to the flat and made veggie toad-in-the-hole with various roast veggies and my onion gravy. In the evening we saw The Men Who Stare At Goats in the same cinema we’d been to the day before. You can take a beer into a film with you, which is nice.

Didn’t really have much time on Monday, so I just headed straight to the airport for the journey home.

Good times.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

At The Pictures: Pontypool & The Men Who Stare At Goats

Pontypool was, for the most, pretty decent I thought. It’s essentially a zombie film but the ‘hook’ is that it’s mostly set in a small community’s Talk Radio station; so we only find out about what’s happening in the outside world as it filters through to the 3 people working in the studio. Unfortunately it all falls apart in the 3rd act with the introduction (almost literally from nowhere) of new characters and a semi-interesting idea about language spreading the infection which unfortunately the writers couldn’t fully exploit. After the credits there was some completely unrelated scene where 2 of the main characters were sat in some bar somewhere and it’s all done in that Sin City style. It was odd. Fair dos though, for the first 2 sections it really was quite effective.

The Men Who Stares At Goats jettisoned some of the darker bits of Jon Ronson’s book to create a breezy knockabout comedy. I love George Clooney when he does these kinds of roles, and it’s always worth seeing Jeff Bridges slip back into Dude-ism. It was good fun, but not really essential viewing.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Musics: Japandroinds/A Place To Bury Strangers

Good gig last night. It was Japandroids and A Place To Bury Strangers at the Barfly. My first visit to Barfly since the refurb. The stage is better now, but the floor is still sticky and there was a whiff of vomit about the place. More things change the more they stay the same. Japandroids were the most Canadian band I’ve ever seen. They looked polite and well-fed on nutritious food, and just seemed like nice friendly guys. At one point I caught myself thinking “I’d bet they’d help you move house and you wouldn’t even need to ask”. Musically ace as well, the guitarist was a bit ROCK but his Canadian-ness made it alright. He had a fan to keep him cool, and it blew his hair around in an 80s power-ballad style. He kept saying how excited he was to be in Cardiff because his favourite band were from Cardiff, and they closed on a cover of Mclusky’s To Hell With Good Intentions. He was wearing a Future Of The Left Tshirt as well. A Place To Bury Strangers also have a Cardiff/S.Wales connections as their drummer is from Barry. I find that quite amusing. How does someone from Barry end up in a doomy cool Brooklyn band? They did their whole 80s/shoegaze/Factory records thing, machine gun drumming and sonic Ouija board assault. It killed my hearing. Forgot my earplugs. Good though. Beforehand I’d overheard some guy describing them as ‘ambient’ to one of his friends. I’d love to know what they thought after.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

At The Picture: The Imaginarium Of Dr Parnassus

I really disliked this film. Quite often, it takes me a day or 2 to figure out that I didn’t actually like something – but I pretty much hated this from the very first scene. It was utterly un-engaging, with a meandering plot and mostly bad acting. Bonus point for Tom Waits’ scene-stealing turn as the Devil, but other than that I can’t really find anything of merit in it. At least poor Heath Ledger has Brokeback Mountain and The Dark Knight to secure his legacy. I wish I’d just stayed at home to watch Spooks.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Pizza Slice - La Vita (redux)

Went back to La Vita on the weekend. This time I opted for a pretty straight double pepperoni with chillies affair, forgot the name they gave it. It was really good, but I missed the vegetable element. The lady had a wholly veggie thing with olives and artichokes and possibly mushrooms as well – I can’t remember. It was good though yes, I’m still not fully sold on artichokes but I could probably grow to enjoy them if I put in the time and effort. Had a nice basic side-salad of rocket and parmesan as well. For pudding we wanted tiramisu (it was amazing last time) but they’d sold out, so instead we went for this pear and berry pie. Not what I’d usually go for but man, it was good! Special mention for the house red wine as well, which is ace-in-the-face. Only negative was that I ordered a coffee which never arrived. Waiter was being a bit cocky and not writing stuff down, and then a large group of people arrived just after I’d ordered the coffee so he must have just forgotten. Oh well, didn’t get charged for it at least. Not the sort of thing that’ll put me off going back.

After that we went to Chapter for the last few hours of their Oktoberfest. They only had 2 biers left. One was a straight Weissbier which was really nice, not as perfumed as the more commercial ones like Hoegarden and Kronenberg Blanc. The best was the Weissbier Dunkel though – it was amazing. Had this slightly metallic tang to it, it reminded us of a beer we drank in a Montreal micro-brewery as well. So it was nice to have that taste-based reminisce.