Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Xmas CD 2006: The Wait is Over

Well, in the words of Slade, Mama, weer all Crazee now. Or did I mean, Eeeeeeet's Chreeeeeeeesmessssssss? Actually, that's probably what I meant. However, I think using the backspace key shows a lack of spine, so I'll just have to leave it up there. Below is My Opinion on the tracks that I put on your Christmas CD. (The reviews start off a bit weakly, I think, but they get better as it goes on. I'll give myself 7/10. Mainly on the strength of this brilliant introduction though, which were it not dragged down by this sentence, would get 9/10 alone.)

The Knife - Like a Pen
Er, they're Swedish. That's all I know. Nice bassline. Er, I think they lyrics might be rude. Damn, I should have started with a track that I can write about, shouldn't I. Oh sod.

Beck - Cellphone's Dead
Beckity Beck-Beck makes it to his second Xmas compilation in a row, an honour unique in history, which surely will please the little lad. Here, he merrily rips off Herbie Hancock's Chameleon (off the 'Head Hunters' album). Cheeky. I think he started shaving this year. Huzzah.

Devendra Banhart - I Feel Just Like a Child
Singer/Songwriter and leader of the hairiest backing band around, Banhart wears his weirdness like a big hat. This is the obvious cross-over hit to get the radio dancing, but the album it's off, Cripple Crow, is well worth a delve.

The Long Blondes - Once and Never Again
Winners of the Most Anticipated Album That Disappointed Slightly On First Hearing But Subsequent Listens Proved It To Be Quite The Grower award this year, it was difficult to decide which track would end up on here. In the end I've plumped for this, mainly because it's got a catchy chorus that, try as you might, is impossible to sing without getting it wrong (unless you can sing better than I can, which [contemptuous snort] I hardly think is likely]. The Female Franz Ferdinand comparisons are a little unfair, considering the wealth of people FF are borrowing from. I unfortunately missed seeing them live in the summer, so will have to make amends.

The Pippettes - Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me
Beloved of the media for the good photograph opportunities they present, The Pippettes have had a good year. It was between this and 'Pull Shapes' for inclusion on your CD. Was I right? From what I've seen, they're good live, and I think they are the sort of band who would do a service to the world by recording a Christmas single. Do it!

Charlotte Gainsbourg - The Operation
The daughter of loyal John Major Cabinet minister David Hunt (Secretary of State for Wales 1990–1993, Secretary of State for Employment 1993–1994, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster 1994–1995, and then finally back to the job he did so well the first time that he did it again for two more weeks in 1995 as Secretary of State for Wales) and his lovely wife, Mrs David Hunt, it's obvious where Charlotte Gainsbourg got her talent from. Oh, hold on, I've just looked at the wrong page; that was the John Major Christmas Annual 1996 rather than my Compendium of Facts About Things. Now, let me see... Ah yes, Charlotte Gainsbourg does have a father, you'll be pleased to know, and I'm sure you'll be able to work out who that is without me patronising you. She also has a mother what's famous - I again refer you to the internet for information. She's an actress too, and was bloody fantastic in Lemming, a taught psychological thriller featuring as a central motif a half-dead lemming stuck in the plumbing. The film is mainly brilliant for the way that French people (and yes, I'm not giving too much away to say that she's French) say 'Leh-MEEENG'. In my opinion she could do with eating some more sticky buns, as she's very theeeeen. Anyway, back to music: she manages to sound aloof, much in the style of Sarah Nixey from Black Box Recorder, which to those of you who knows your stuff about cold, distant and dismissive pop music is very definitely a compliment. I wanted to put 'Jamais' on this CD from the same album, because it's funky, but I was outvoted. I never should have given the cat casting vote in domestic disputes.

Fujiya & Miyagi – Cassettesingle
I think this one goes quite well with the previous track, doesn't it? It's like I've gone through and tried to create a seamless whole out of the disparate shattered music of 2006, JUST FOR YOU. And what thanks do I get? Some, that's what. Fujiya and Miyagi are practitioners of the Tepid Funk music school, which is no bad thing. People get hurt dancing, and that opens you up to all sorts of class action suits in the States. Best turn it down to 6, I think, just in case.

Thom Yorke - Harrowdown Hill
In which Thom accuses Tony Blair of actually and not metaphorically murdering David Kelly with his cold bony fingers. This song moves the Xmas 2006 CD into Jitter-funk, which shouldn't be listened to if you have consumed caffeine recently. It won't be good for you. I'd like to think this song is one that could get people swaying in time at his gigs, lighters out, as they croon along: 'Don't ask me/ask the Ministreeeeeeeeeeeeee'. I imagine Thom would scowl at that, and that would put a stop to it.

Hot Chip - Boys From School
OK, so they dress a bit archly/smackably, esp. the singer in his Buggles spectacles, but this song nudges the funk up to 8 on the dial, so hold on to your hats. Don't say I didn't warn you: hats could come off unexpectedly during this song unless you take adequate precautions. The harmony is nice on this song, don't you think? This helps the genre of indie-dance recover from the yoke of the Soup Dragons that it's been carrying all these years. The whole album's good, and they're good live. I just hope they get some nice smart clothes for Christmas.

King Creosote - Jump At The Cats
To save my poor, poor fingers, a biog can be found within clicking distance. They're good live, too, but sadly come second to Devendra Banhart's lot in the beard stakes. This song can be filed under the Jaunty/Twee section of your thematic filing system.

Guillemots - Made Up Lovesong #43
Stupid Guillemots. You'd've thought they would have been a definite article band, wouldn't you? But, according to the exhaustive research I've done, they don't. Well, here's on of their songs. We're moving away from funky and into noodly here, aren't we?

Jarvis Cocker - From A To I
He's great isn't he? I was going to have Running the World on this compilation, but I didn't want to cause trouble for you at home with your Great Aunt at the family Christmas Meal. On this track, he hectors you to take moral responsibility, which were it anyone other than Jarvis, would merit a smack. Ipswich reference not included for topicality's sake, please note. Oh, and the CD buggers about a bit here, doesn't it? Don't blame me, blame Nero.

Silver Jews - Sometimes A Pony Gets Depressed
You know, I think this song is just about what it says it is. I hope there's no arch references that you'll point out to me so as to show me up as the uncultured thicko that I am. Keep your metatextual analyses to yourselves.

Bob Dylan - Thunder On The Mountain
I'm not going to make any pretence that the new album of BER-LUES is up there with Blood on the Tracks, but this chugs along pretty nicely, and his rasp suits it well. It's the one that references Alicia Keys. I'm hungry. Maybe I should have a biscuit?

Cat Power - The Greatest
Ah yes, a biscuit would be nice. My definition of biscuit greatness is the dark Choco Leibniz, which is the perfect amalgam of firm dark chocolate and buttery crunchy rich-tea-esque biscuit. Can't seem to get one for love nor money round here. Oh well, here's Cat Power. She's probably featured on a past Xmas compilation, hasn't she? You know here by now. If I've got a complaint, the album's a little bit samey, but that's a minor complaint. Sometimes they have those biscuits on two-for-the-price-of-one deals in Tescos. Those are my best days, those days. I wish today was one of those days. I don't think it is though. Fuck you Tescos. Fuck you.

The Last Town Chorus - Modern Love
Which leads me seamlessly into my you-probably-saw-it-coming 2006 cover of an old pop track done in a downbeat slow country style. I'm a sucker for these. Just highlights how great David Bowie was. I'm a bit disappointed that Bowie did that great turn on the second series of Extras, as it was the one high point, and people will now look back on the series with fond affection just because of that brief beacon of greatness, rather than thinking, oh Christ, what did we do to deserve this aimless shambling point-free collection of knowing cameos and feeling-awkward-in-the-presence-of-the-disabled jokes. Actually, there were a few good segments, but it was still shit.

Sufjan Stevens - Star Of Wonder
Ah, and following on from the traditional cover, we have a Christmas Song. This actually gives me a shiver down my spine when I listen to the intro. I haven't actually given his Illinoise album a proper chance yet, as I was wrapped up in the Decemberists when it came out, and there's only so much understated acoustic American whimsy a boy needs, but I'm going to go away and give it both ears at once.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Wii (No Puns Please)

I'm getting me a Wii. You know, the world's most embarassingly named console. Ah Nintendo. The Gamecube was a cube that played games. Logical. Simple. Accurate. Although to the best of my recollection, this logic did not apply to the Gameboy. The N64 was a shorthand for its real name, the 'Nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn', named after the emotion you feel when wandering around the boring landscapes of Mario 64. And the NES did provide systematic entertainment (superbly, in the case of the SNES).

Nomenclature aside, its control system - a wireless motion-sensitive controller that is wafted about to control the games - will probably look acceptable in multiplayer, but I've a feeling I'm going to be self-conscious waving the wii-mote around the flat on my own. There have been cartoons about it. As ever, Wondermark (you know, the one about the smoothies, yeah?) does it best.

I'm excited in a way that can only lead to bitter disappointment. (Update: a woman from Game, the single-worded shop that sells, er, yes, I'll remember it in a minute, have just called me up to tell me that I am guaran-buggering-teed to get the console that I've pre-ordered, and then was slightly mocking when I said that I didn't want to order any games with it. Hmpff. I think a pre-requisite of working in a video games shop is a sneering disregard for your customers, most of whom are grubby-palmed twelve-year-olds. I guess I got off lightly. They're opening at 7am. 7am! I think you're duty bound to go dressed up as Mario if you turn up at 7. I'm going later than that, probably about 10. And dressed as Princess Daisy.)

I'll see you all next Spring, I reckon.