Leader of the Starry Skies – A Tribute to Tim Smith

Posted in Music with tags , , , on 9 December, 2010 by Ally

Leader of the Starry Skies is a tribute to Tim Smith, the mastermind behind such cult bands as Cardiacs, The Sea Nymphs and Spratleys Japs. Tim suffered a severe stroke in 2008 and all proceeds from the album will go towards his care.

The album will be released on Monday 13th December 2010. It features interpretations of Tim’s unique songs, performed by an array of his bandmates, friends and fans. The impressive lineup includes, among others: The Magic Numbers, Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree), Oceansize, Andy Partridge (XTC) and the specially-reformed Ultrasound.

Those who pre-order will receive an exclusive bonus album free of charge. I’m delighted to say the contribution from my band Bug Prentice is included on the bonus album. So pre-order before it’s too late!

Knifeworld — The Stench of Honey:

Pre-order Leader of the Starry Skies — A Tribute to Tim Smith from the Genepool.

Underrated Band of the Week: Chavez

Posted in Music with tags , , , , on 17 September, 2010 by Ally

I’ve been listening to a lot of mid-’90s alt-rock lately. The Jesus Lizard, Shellac, Jawbox, that sort of thing. About a week ago, a friend asked me if I’d heard of Chavez. “Vaguely,” I said, then checked youtube to remind myself.

I found the music video for Break Up Your Band, which starts with a standup comedian who seems to be getting big laughs with the word “yes.” He then introduces “the men of Chavez,” who play the song to accompany a succession of male strippers. The audience is composed entirely of middle-aged women. I had seen the video before, giggled and thought nothing more of it. This time I liked the music. I really liked it. I wanted to hear more.

“Damn, that’s actually pretty good,” I said.

“I know,” my friend said.

He knows these things.

Medium story short, a few days ago I bought Better Days Will Haunt You; a 2CD anthology of both Chavez albums and various singles, b-sides and compilation tracks. I ripped the tracks to my computer in a lossless format, separated the bonus tracks from the original albums (as is my wont) and transferred them to my Personal Portable Digital Music Player for Convenient Listening.

I haven’t listened conveniently to much else this week.

Chavez — Top Pocket Man

And you can listen conveniently to Better Days Will Haunt You on Spotify, if you care to.

1001: A Screen Odyssey

Posted in Film on 20 August, 2010 by Ally

If this blog had any readers, it wouldn’t have escaped their notice that I don’t really post much anymore. However I have resumed regular blogging with my friend Rachel, as we are trying to watch and review each of the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die. The list spans 105 years of cinema and we have committed ourselves to watching it all. Even Top Gun.

Follow our progress on our blog, 1001: A Screen Odyssey.

Claudia Winkleman to host Film 2010

Posted in Film, Television with tags , , , on 29 March, 2010 by Ally

Today the BBC announced Claudia Winkleman will replace Jonathan Ross as host of Film 2010. Even for an ardent Wossy detractor, this does not strike me as A Good Thing. “Everyone has an opinion on film,” she states in the press release, ignoring the fact that some are more informed than others. Claudia Winkleman, while eminently likable, has no previous form in film criticism and apparently nothing more to guide her than gut instinct. That’s also true of the viewing public, but we expect our opinions to come from those more knowledgable than us.

This is merely speculation of course: Not just counting chickens before they’re hatched, but deciding said chickens will be shit. Nevertheless this wonky egg doesn’t fill me with confidence.

Song of the Day: “Marrow” by St. Vincent

Posted in Music, Of the Week with tags , on 14 January, 2010 by Ally

St. Vincent is the “nom de tune” of Annie Clark, a very fine musician comin’ straight outta Tulsa. Having heard the name bandied about by numerous trustworthy sources, it only occurred to me a few days ago to actually listen to some of her music, and I must say I was pleasantly surprised. The music seems to fuse the ethereal melodic arrangements of Sufjan Stevens with the crunchy electro-funk of TV on the Radio, not to mention the occasional distorted guitar assault reminiscent of Glenn Branca. These elements are perhaps best represented in the song “Marrow”, embedded below for your viewing pleasure:

Muppet Bohemian Rhapsody

Posted in Film with tags , , , , on 24 November, 2009 by Ally

Mere words cannot express how much I love this video. Sesame Street aside, my youth is sadly lacking in fond Muppet memories. That doesn’t diminish the affection I have for Kermit and the gang, and the pure joy of muppetry is abundantly clear in this new video. I recommend going directly to youtube and viewing it in HD.

Many thanks to @GarethFW and @Glinner for tweeting the link.

Why do I watch the X Factor?

Posted in Music, Television with tags on 17 October, 2009 by Ally

There is a certain satisfaction in having your prejudices confirmed. Despite immense resentment and frustration, that satisfaction is what moves me to watch The X Factor. As a musician and music-lover, the programme goes against my fundamental beliefs about art and entertainment. Which is precisely why it’s unmissable.

Tonight my senses were once again assaulted by the boorishly loud audience and the murder of songs I couldn’t fucking stand in the first place. And if there is such a thing is a hate orgasm, John & Edward never fail to bring me to it. Not to mention the judges’ assertions that any of the acts even approached authenticity. Just thinking about it makes my fists clench, forcing me to type this article by stabbing wildly at my keyboard with a pen.

I refuse to call it car-crash television, because I respect crash victims’ privacy enough to avert my gaze. It’s more like pornography: Depressing, demeaning but shamefully compelling. But this I watch with my family.

That’s entertainment!

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