Friday, December 30, 2005

SWSL Top 20 Singles Of 2005

Was it just me, or was it not quite as hot a year for singles as 2004? That said, quality still abounded.

The honourable mentions:

ANTONY & THE JOHNSONS – ‘You Are My Sister’ / ‘Hope There’s Someone’
ART BRUT – ‘Emily Kane’ / ‘Good Weekend’
BLOC PARTY - ‘Banquet’ / 'The Pioneers'
KATE BUSH – ‘King Of The Mountain’
CLOR – ‘Good Stuff’ / ‘Outlines’
THE CORAL – ‘In The Morning’ / ‘Something Inside Of Me’
DOVES – ‘Black And White Town’
THE DUKE SPIRIT – ‘Love Is An Unfamiliar Name’
EDITORS – ‘Bullets’ / ‘Munich’
FIELD MUSIC – ‘If Only The Moon Were Up’ / ‘You Can Decide’
FOO FIGHTERS – ‘Best Of You’
GIRLS ALOUD – ‘Long Hot Summer’
GOLDFRAPP – ‘Number 1’
THE GO! TEAM – ‘Bottle Rocket’
HOOD – ‘The Negatives’
IDLEWILD – ‘Love Steals Us From Loneliness’ / ‘I Understand It’
INTERPOL - ‘C’mere’
LCD SOUNDSYSTEM – ‘Tribulations’
THE MAGIC NUMBERS – ‘Forever Lost’ / ‘Love Is Just A Game’
MAXIMO PARK - ‘Going Missing’
MERCURY REV – ‘Across Yer Ocean’
SONS & DAUGHTERS – ‘Dance Me In’ / 'Taste The Last Girl'
SUFJAN STEVENS – ‘Concerning The UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois’
TEST ICICLES – ‘Circle. Square. Triangle’
THE WHITE STRIPES – ‘Blue Orchid’ / ‘My Doorbell’

Now, down to the real business…

20. NINE BLACK ALPS – ‘Not Everyone’
Very tricky, shooting yourself in the mouth with a shotgun, you know. No wonder Kur(d)t Cobain missed, fled Seattle, arrived in Manchester, had facial surgery and formed Nine Black Alps. Amazing the lengths someone will go to to get away from Courtney Love. The disappearing-and-reappearing act has borne thrilling fruit in the form of an album, Everyone Is, and its best single, ‘Not Everyone’.

19. SIGUR ROS – ‘Hoppipolla’
Not only did the Icelanders deign to give titles to the tracks on Takk, unlike on its predecessor ( ), they even went so far as to release a single from it. Thankfully the delicate piano-led tune that was chosen was itself not a concession to convention, just another haunting melody.

18. EELS – ‘Hey Man (Now You’re Really Living)’
E at his best, looking on the bright side of life even when everything in his garden isn’t totally rosy, as hands clap and horns parp. Guaranteed to put a smile on your face, and a scowl on Sufjan Stevens’s when he realises he’s been trumped.

17. THE RAVEONETTES – ‘Love In A Trashcan’
Because “The jukebox playing songs about sex / C’mon baby, you’re my best bet” is a great couplet. And because it’s got a marvellous surf guitar solo.

16. BLOC PARTY – ‘Two More Years’
What initially seemed a bit too neat has in time come to sound like a sharp, sleek distillation of all that was good about Silent Alarm. A sign of things to come?

15. THE MAGIC NUMBERS – ‘Love Me Like You’
Brian Wilson ruled my Glastonbury hands down, so it was appropriate that a Wilson-approved band released the summer’s best single. The album might be clogged up with too many lethargic torch-songs, but lethargy is the last thing that springs to mind here, where downbeat lyrics are conjoined to an upbeat melody for bittersweet pop perfection. And it features lots of ooh-ing. Which is nice.

14. THE DELGADOS – ‘Girls Of Valour’
I once asked Aidan Moffat of Arab Strap whether he was concerned that cheering up might curtail his band’s career. “I’m actually quite worried about that”, he replied, “There’s a possibility of me being very happy in the future and having a girlfriend I get on with and like, so that might be a problem”. When their label bosses The Delgados belatedly discovered happiness, it proved to be the end of the line – but at least they left us with this fabulous swansong from last year’s underrated Universal Audio LP.

13. LOW – ‘California’
Well, there aren’t many bands who would contemplate releasing a comeback single about their singer’s mother having to sell her farm, are there? Sublime, but then that’s par for the course with Low. Loud enough to not only drown out conversation but annoy the neighbours? That’s not.

12. MAXIMO PARK – ‘Graffiti’
You’ve heard of art, right? And you’ve heard of punk? Well, this is where the two collide: “I’ll do graffiti if you sing to me in French”. Halfway between the gutter and the stars you’ll find Maximo Park.

11. FRANZ FERDINAND – ‘Do You Want To’
The answer to the titular question posed by this stomping slice of indie-disco delirium from Glasgow’s finest? A whooping, joyous “Hell yeah!” Peacock strut present and correct.

10. GOLDFRAPP – ‘Ooh La Laa’
I don’t want to out myself as a potential fan of sadomasochism, but this is rather like being used as a catwalk by a leather-catsuit-and-stilettos-clad dominatrix. Electro meets glam meets ‘Spirit In The Sky’. Like ‘Number 1’ but better, it was certainly no number two.

9. QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE – ‘Little Sister’
Nick Oliveri might have departed, but the lead single from Lullabies To Paralyze emphatically confirmed that QOTSA’s powers hadn’t deserted them, motoring along on a piledriving riff that bores its way into your head like a supercharged weevil. The title and dubious lyrical content underlined the fact that they remain defiantly on the wrong side of the tracks.

8. INTERPOL – ‘Evil’
Quite probably overlooked in many end-of-year polls, but not here. Oh no. This one was earmarked for Top Tendom from the moment I heard of its imminent release late last year. One of the very finest moments of a very fine second album.

7. SUGABABES – ‘Push The Button’
What kind of an album title is Taller In More Ways?! But I suppose Keisha, Heidi and the recently departed Mutya can be forgiven nearly anything by virtue of the LP’s lead single, another splendid pop gem that certainly, ahem, pushes my button. And the video features the trio gyrating seductively in a lift. Sometimes the simple ideas are the best. One in the eye for Ms Stevens!

6. THE ARCADE FIRE – ‘Rebellion (Lies)’
Rallying cries don’t come much better than this. “Sleeping is giving in / So lift your heavy eyelids”, they insist. And yet ‘Rebellion (Lies)’ is not just an uplifting rabble-rouser – it’s laden with menace and agitation, and possesses the same insistent rhythm as classics like ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ and ‘Waiting For My Man’. Any song that can make ‘Later With Jools Holland’ positively thrilling must be a bit special.

5. MAXIMO PARK – ‘Apply Some Pressure’
Only a few re-released singles are good enough to actually merit it, and this one was. ‘Apply Some Pressure’ brilliantly showcases Maximo Park’s propulsive and energetic new wave, its earworm status merely cemented by one of the only lyrical hooks to compete with The Arcade Fire this year – “What happens when you lose everything? / You just start again, YOU START ALL OVER AGAIN!

4. THE ARCADE FIRE – ‘Wake Up’
If there was a song with a bigger, more jaw-droppingly bombastic opening than ‘Wake Up’ released all year, then I didn’t hear it. It out-Flaming-Lips The Flaming Lips themselves, both ‘The Gash’ and ‘Do You Realize??’ relegated to the shadows by its dazzling brilliance. And then towards the end it suddenly turns into ‘You Can’t Hurry Love’. And yet still not their finest single of the year – that honour goes to…

3. THE ARCADE FIRE – ‘Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)’
Sitting in the dark without the wherewithal to listen to music or boil a kettle, all the while knowing you’re missing ‘Coronation Street’. I’ve never thought much of power cuts. But then without them this song wouldn’t exist. And, appropriately enough, it introduced The Arcade Fire to the UK in electrifying fashion. All together now: “YOU AIN’T FOOLIN’ NO-ONE!

2. THE FUTUREHEADS – ‘Hounds Of Love’
Given that Kate Bush returned to the limelight after a twelve year absence with an ambitious and critically acclaimed double LP, it’s strange to think that the re-ascendancy of her star had less to do with her own output than it did with a cover of the title track of her 1985 album by four scruffy XTC fans from The Dark Place. A truly inspired reimagining, The Futureheads’ take on ‘Hounds Of Love’ is kept off the top spot only because I had hoped it might remain a best-kept-secret album track.

1. BLOC PARTY – ‘So Here We Are’
So here we are, as the sun sets on 2005, celebrating the song that marked the year’s dawning in such glorious fashion. While Silent Alarm is in the main a seething mass of tightly wound claustrophobically neurotic rock songs, the shift in pace and tone signalled by ‘So Here We Are’ ensured it was the clear stand-out. A perfect marriage of post-punk and post-rock, the song builds gently to the hairs-standing-on-the-back-of-the-neck headrush climax, Kele Okereke joyously proclaiming “I figured it out!” to anyone who’ll listen. I would – and did many, many times.

A reminder of the SWSL Top 20 Singles Of 2004:

1. FRANZ FERDINAND – ‘Take Me Out’
3. KELIS – ‘Trick Me’
4. NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS – ‘Breathless’ / ‘There She Goes, My Beautiful World’
5. THE ICARUS LINE – ‘Up Against The Wall Motherfuckers’
6. MORRISSEY – ‘First Of The Gang To Die’
7. INTERPOL – ‘Slow Hands’
8. RACHEL STEVENS – ‘Some Girls’
9. GRAHAM COXON – ‘Freakin Out’
10. THE RADIO DEPT – ‘Why Won’t You Talk About It?’
11. THE WALKMEN – ‘The Rat’
12. THE FIERY FURNACES – ‘Single Again’
13. NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS – ‘Nature Boy’
14. KELIS – ‘Milkshake’
15. THE LIBERTINES – ‘Can’t Stand Me Now’
16. THE STREETS – ‘Blinded By The Lights’
17. PJ HARVEY – ‘The Letter’
18. FRANZ FERDINAND – ‘Michael’
19. THE FUTUREHEADS – ‘Decent Days And Nights’
20. SCISSOR SISTERS – ‘Comfortably Numb’

Sunday, December 25, 2005

A very British Christmas wish

From last Sunday's Observer:

"The euphoric hopes for peace and freedom brought by the end of the Second World War were dead by Christmas 1948. The Iron Curtain had fallen across Eastern Europe trapping tens of millions behind it. Stalin clung to life and his purges rolled across Eurasia from the Mongolian steppe to the German plain.

In China, Chairman Mao was preparing to seize power and inflict a terror to match Stalin's. In India, hundreds of thousands had died in violent clashes between Hindus and Muslims. Anti-colonial movements in Africa and Southeast Asia began the long wars against imperial powers.

Worse than conflict was the fear of nuclear war. The mushroom cloud from the Hiroshima bomb hung over the age.

In 'The Diplomats', the historian Geoffrey Moorhouse tells how a reporter on Washington DC radio responded to the crisis by phoning ambassadors in the American capital and asking what each would like for Christmas. He recorded their replies for a special programme on the future of the human race.

'Peace throughout the world', the French Ambassador demanded. 'Freedom for all people enslaved by imperialism', his Soviet counterpart countered.

And so it went on. Ambassadors asked for democracy for Christmas, an end to poverty, the banning of the atom bomb until at last the reporter reached Sir Oliver Franks, His Brittanic Majesty's Ambassador to the United States of America.

'What do you want for Christmas, Sir Oliver?'

'It's very kind of you to ask', a polite voice replied. 'I'd quite like a box of crystallized fruit'

And on that note, happy Christmas.
Not At All Festive Feel Good Hits Of The 25th December

1. 'Not Everyone' - Nine Black Alps
2. 'Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)' - The Arcade Fire
3. 'Hey Man (Now You're Really Living)' - Eels
4. 'Two More Years' - Bloc Party
5. 'When I Go Deaf' - Low
6. 'Getting Bright At Night' - The Icarus Line
7. 'Ode To LA' - The Raveonettes with Ronnie Spector
8. 'Available' - Moving Units
9. 'Aus' - Fennesz
10. 'Hypnotize' - System Of A Down

Thursday, December 22, 2005

E's are good

Up now on The Art Of Noise, after an unanticipated week's hiatus: the E installment of the A-Z Of Music feature, which includes me wittering about emo, Alison waxing lyrical about Eels, Damo forced into writing about The Shamen and Jez unburdening himself of some vitriol in a piece about The Eurythmics.

Incidentally, apologies for the delay in the appearance of the additional SWSL end-of-year lists - they are on their way, I promise...

Sunday, December 18, 2005

The SWSL End-Of-Year Music Lists

Just what you've been waiting for. You know you love it.

The SWSL Top 10 Albums Of 2005 and Top 20 Singles Of 2005 will follow this week, but first up are the ten live experiences that have most illuminated my year.
SWSL Top 10 Live Performances Of 2005

Loads of gigs and a marvellous festival - and yet I'm still rueing the one that got away: The Arcade Fire, Birmingham Academy, 6th May. Curse my reticence.

Special thanks this year must go to Phill and Kate for helping to expose me to some of the best local bands that Birmingham has to offer (and thanks also to fellow Brummie gig-goers Kenny, Andy and Pete for their company).

10. MERCURY REV, Birmingham Academy, 11th March

"The set is at first heavy with tracks from new album The Secret Migration, latest single ‘Across Yer Ocean’ particularly impressive, with older tracks like ‘Tides Of The Moon’ sprinkled in, and, as with the songs themselves, it takes time for momentum to build. But build it does, and penultimate song ‘Goddess On A Hiway’ is incredible, more than enough to compensate for the absence of ‘The Dark Is Rising’ and ‘Chains’. A three song encore concludes with ‘Spiders & Flies’, and then it’s 10pm and everybody out".

9. THE PUBIC FRINGE, Birmingham Flapper & Firkin, 6th December

"The Pubic Fringe are personal favourites of eccentric curmudgeon Mark E Smith of The Fall, with whom they've toured, and approximately thirty seconds into their set they're one of mine too. Immaculately abrasive yet extraordinarily tight, they're a brutal psychobilly covers band roughly (and that's the operative word here) in the mould of The Cramps with nods and winks in the direction of The Birthday Party and The Stooges.

They sound like they've forgotten to take their medication. Like there's other people's skin under their fingernails. Like if they weren't on stage they'd be in the gutter eating dog-ends.

Vocalist Nazi Sinatra is the inevitable focal point. Clad in a tasselled cowboy shirt, he lurches back and forth apparently using the mic stand for support and chainsmoking, a fact which immediately explains his extraordinary rasping growl.

The set careers through a series of stomping three-minute songs before reaching its peak with a much longer number about "old-time religion" which might be what The Doors would have sounded like (criminally lame rock hack cliche alert!) had they experimented with ketamine rather than LSD and spent their days chewing their own arms off.

Under the circumstances, for me to stand tapping my foot and nodding my head is akin to saying "Excuse me, would you mind leaving me alone - there's a good chap" while being savaged by a rabid pitbull. This music demands a rather less restrained and polite reaction. Curse that English reserve

8. DRESDEN DOLLS, Glastonbury Festival, 26th June

"About this time yesterday I was watching The Rakes. I’ve forgotten everything about them except the fact that they were instantly forgettable. The same cannot be said of The Dresden Dolls. "Brechtian punk cabaret" they label themselves, and who am I to disagree? I’m still desperately struggling to get my bearings, confronted with a sultry gothed-up singer / keyboard player (Amanda Palmer) and a drummer done up like a mime artist who attacks his kit with more ferocity than anyone I’ve seen for a long time (Brian Viglione). Their cover of ‘War Pigs’, the second of the weekend after Hayseed Dixie yesterday, is extraordinary, and ‘Coin-Operated Boy’ is equally striking, not least the section during which they play as though the record has stuck. I’ve never seen anything quite like this before".

7. THE WHITE STRIPES, Glastonbury Festival, 24th June

"Fuck me if Jack White doesn’t look ridiculous with his Mexican pimp ‘tache. And Meg still can’t sing. And we REALLY don’t need marimbas. But when the duo avoid material from Get Behind Me Satan (‘Blue Orchid’ aside, which I hear for the very first time tonight), there’s no doubting they’re electric. The set is a procession of fantastic songs, starting with ‘Dead Leaves And The Dusty Ground’ and taking in ‘Hotel Yorba’, ‘I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself’, ‘I Smell A Rat’ and the brilliant ‘Ball And Biscuit’ (split into sections and dispersed) before coming to a close, predictably enough, with ‘Seven Nation Army’".

6. DIRTY THREE, Birmingham Academy, 21st November

"I've never heard Dirty Three before, let alone seen them in the flesh, but they really are something quite special. Call them post-rock if you must (an inevitability, really, given their vocalless songs), but they draw upon folk, jazz and avant garde traditions, live up to their name by leaving you feeling as though you've got dirt under your fingernails and are perhaps first and foremost a punk band - at how many Godspeed! You Black Emperor gigs would you expect to see a fistfight break out immediately behind you, as does tonight?

That said, unassuming guitarist Mick Turner never once threatens to become animated, while drummer Jim White - whose percussive invention behind the kit, even down to carefully and repeatedly dropping a drumstick to send it skittering across the snare, is amazing to behold - is a picture of concentration, only rarely breaking into a smile.

Nearly all of the energy comes from Ellis, who, though stood in the main with his back to the audience, is a magnetic presence. His frequently furious style owes much to The Velvet Underground and particularly 'The Black Angel's Death Song', and he attacks his violin with such gusto that several bowstrings snap each song while flailing his right leg out as if possessed. At some points he plucks the violin like a guitar, and at others shouts into the strings

5. MAXIMO PARK, Glastonbury Festival, 24th June

"The first stupendously good set of the festival, and it comes courtesy of the first half of a Geordie double bill, Maximo Park. A fledgling outfit they may be, but they’ve got fantastic new-wave tunes coming out of their ears - from ‘Apply Some Pressure’ to ‘Now I’m All Over The Shop’, from ‘The Coast Is Always Changing’ to forthcoming single and set closer ‘Going Missing’. And that’s without even mentioning the crowning glory of ‘Graffiti’. Paul Smith is a magnetic figurehead, scissor-kicking around the stage only to stop occasionally and read his lyrics from a book, but in keyboard player Lukas Wooller Maximo Park effectively boast a second frontman - when he’s not hunched over his instrument Wooller hops around chopping the air robotically like a short-circuiting member of Kraftwerk. Lively doesn’t really do this performance justice".

4. SIGUR ROS, Birmingham Academy, 14th November

"As the band walk out onto the stage, the curtain edges across once more and they launch into 'Untitled #8', the final track from 2002's ( ). Eight minutes it takes to build to its explosive climax, all restraint now abandoned in spectacular fashion as the drummer, freed from the straitjacket of the main set, attacks his kit with violent relish and a strobed flurry of projected images strikes the curtain. It's a fireworks display a week and a half too late. It's the sort of all-out sensual assault that would put Mogwai and Spiritualized in the shade. And it's an awesome conclusion to a very fine gig.

Guilty of taking themselves too seriously? Yes. Pretentious? Probably. Mindblowing? Too damn right

3. THE FUTUREHEADS, Glastonbury Festival, 25th June

"This band just doesn’t do disappointment. The set starts slowly enough with ‘Le Garage’ and ‘The City Is Here For You To Use’ before gathering pace and climaxing in style with ‘Carnival Kids’, ‘Hounds Of Love’ (for which the crowd are split in half to sing the two vocal parts), ‘Man Ray’ and ‘Piece Of Crap’. Of their eponymous debut, only ‘Trying Not To Think About Time’ doesn’t get an airing – we’re even treated to a rare appearance of the a capella ‘Danger Of The Water’, in addition to The Television Personalities’ ‘A Picture Of Dorian Gray’ and new song ‘Area’. The band’s front three Barry Hyde, Ross Millard and bassist Jaff have always combined to create some stunning vocal harmonies to overlay their jerky XTC style new wave punk, but over time they’ve developed a real comic repartee, to the extent that they almost come across as a music hall act. As much as I enjoyed them two years ago in the New Bands Tent, they’ve come a long way – from kings of the toilet circuit to stadium rock showmen".

2. LOW, Wolverhampton Wulfrun Hall, 19th February

"They might be living up to the billing as a bona fide rock band these days, but that doesn't stop Sparhawk introducing new single 'California' as being about his mother. Although the band seem jovial on stage - they laugh about Sparhawk and drummer Mimi Parker's kid dancing around to the first Napalm Death record in the empty venue earlier in the evening - the reflective and heart-meltingly sad moments are still there, buried in the middle of singalong set-closer 'Broadway (So Many People)' in the enigmatic line "Where is the laughter?".

They also still have that uncanny knack of making the hairs on the back of your neck stand stiff to attention. Sparhawk's nakedly solo rendition of 'Death Of A Salesman' is something truly special, but Parker is not to be outdone and her astonishingly clear vocals make the hushed 'Laser Beam' one of the night's highlights, along with 'When I Go Deaf', which begins in near-silence before exploding into life with squalling guitar to die for

1. BRIAN WILSON, Glastonbury Festival, 26th June

"JESUS H CHRIST THIS IS FUCKING AMAZING! The overlapping vocals of ‘God Only Knows’ (message to The Futureheads: nice try boys, love Brian), the plaintive downbeat beauty of ‘In My Room’ (Martin: "I’ve always wanted to write the alter ego to this song – ‘In My Attic’"), the soaring verse vocal of ‘Don’t Worry Baby’ and the splendid incongruity of ‘Little Saint Nick’ (unlike Swiss Toni I don’t have a Santa hat to hand), all wrapped up with ‘California Girls’ and, better still, ‘Good Vibrations’. Throughout it all the legend himself sits there, calm and composed while all around him are losing their heads".

Every other band or artist I've enjoyed / endured this year:

Amina / Art Brut / Augustine / Autons / Beats Capri / Bellydance Superstars & The Desert Roses / Bloc Party / Bright Eyes / Chester Road / Clor / The Coral / Elvis Costello / The Duke Spirit / Editors / 51 Breaks / Goldie Lookin Chain / The Go! Team / The Graham Parsip Liquidiser Torture Think-Tank (Project) / Hayseed Dixie / Jools Holland / I Am Zeitgeist / The International Karate Plus / Interpol / Jetlag / Kid Dakota / The Killers / LCD Soundsystem / The Light Era / The Magic Numbers (x2) / Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks / Maria Szyrtisz & The Pyramids Of Mars / M83 / Midas / Modey Lemon / Motorcycle Stunts / Needless Alley / New Order / Nine Black Alps / Josh Pearson / Chris Perrin / The Pipettes / The Rakes / Sinistra (x2) / Sons And Daughters / StrangeTime (x4) / Ruth Theodore / 2 Many DJs / Trash Fashion / Chris T-T / Rufus Wainwright / Josie Watts / When Bears Attack / Yourcodenameis:milo

A reminder of SWSL Top 10 Live Performances Of 2004:

1. SONIC YOUTH, Brixton Academy
2. NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS, Wolverhampton Civic Hall
3. THE FUTUREHEADS, Birmingham Academy
4. SPIRITUALIZED, Nottingham Rock City
5. MOGWAI, Nottingham Rock City
6. THE FIERY FURNACES, Nottingham Stealth
7. THE ICARUS LINE, Nottingham Rock City
8. PJ HARVEY, Glastonbury Festival
9. FRANZ FERDINAND, Birmingham Academy
10. MUSE, Glastonbury Festival

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Right To Reply #6

The (long-awaited?) return of the feature which sees a number of bloggers (anyone got any good suggestions for a collective noun?) get together to comment and offer their thoughts on a vaguely topical subject. The debate doesn’t stop with the published post – feel free to carry it on in the comments box.

The subject: the change to the English licensing laws

The participants:
Ben - your host
Dave of London Calling
Girl of Girl With A One Track Mind
Inspector Sands of Casino Avenue
JonnyB of Jonny B’s Private Secret Diary
Pete of Expecting To Fly
Swiss Toni of Swiss Toni’s Place

Has the change affected many pubs / clubs near you? Has it had a noticeable impact on the area in which you live?

Swiss Toni: Lots of the main bars and clubs in Nottingham (and elsewhere) already had late licenses in place for the weekend, so from that point of view it has made very little difference.

Pete: Locally (Winchester), it's been hard to detect a change so far, especially as the pubs have been mysteriously empty over the last few weekends. Pubs are slightly more lenient on when it's comes to last orders, but that's about it.

Inspector Sands: As far as I can tell, not a lot, although I'm not a town centre drinker by habit anyway. My local's not opted for extended hours, although I did sneak a drink until 1am at a neighbouring boozer last weekend. But most places have either got licenses but aren't using them, or aren't shouting from the rooftops about their extended hours, so it'll take a long while to get a feel for what's happening. Christmas should be interesting.

Ben: Given how centrally we live, and the proximity of a Yates Wine Lodge (a misnomer if ever I heard one – it’s the sort of place that if you were caught supping on a glass of Chardonnay you’d get a pool cue in the face), our part of Birmingham has always seemed strangely quiet, and the change in the licensing law doesn’t appear to have made any discernible difference. Venture to the neon-lit sick-paved Broad Street – on a Friday night every bit the Daily Mail reader’s nightmare – and it’s likely to be a different story. I wouldn’t know for certain, though, as I do my best to steer clear.

Girl: I am now kept awake from drunken people singing loudly at 12am, 1am and 2am, rather than just around 11pm. They sound like felines on a caterwauling mating call; knowing the lads round here, it wouldn't surprise me if that wasn't far off what they were doing.

JonnyB: There's only one pub for miles. It hasn't applied for a new license. We locals are worried that it will ruin the secret illicit enjoyment of sitting in the dark after hours. Not that we do that. Never.

Dave: I haven't a clue if any of my locals have changed their opening hours. I rarely drink or go to pubs. I can't say I've noticed if later opening hours has affected my area as I'm usually fast asleep by 11pm.

Swiss Toni: Actually, the one thing that the council did that HAS made a difference to the town centre is when they decided to fill in the subways. If you had the misfortune to walk through one of these around closing time on a Friday night, you would find that they were awash with piss. Filling them in hasn’t stopped people from pissing in the street, but at least the smell doesn’t stay with you in quite the same way…

To what extent will it change personal drinking habits?

Dave: I think binge drinking will subside as we get used to longer hours. Folk will stop going out at 6pm (like in Newcastle) and will spread their evenings and alcohol consumption over a greater time period.

Inspector Sands: I was out with someone the other day who ordered his customary three pints at the 11pm bell, then we went off somewhere else, and at the 1am bell, he got another three pints in...

JonnyB: The example always given is the “post theatre” drinks, and I guess I'll be going for a couple of pints after the cinema etc. But there are lots of, for example, shift workers in the factories of King's Lynn. They would possibly like to go for a pint after work, at 5am. Whether catering for them would be economical for a publican, I'm doubtful.

Ben: It’s very true that the law may have changed but that for it to have any discernible impact on drinking habits there has to be a relatively widespread uptake of later licenses by publicans. At present only a minority of pubs and bars seem to have applied, and many of those that have are only trialling a late license to see how it works out – ultimately, as Jonny suggests, it’s a question of economics.

Swiss Toni: At a little after 11pm one Monday night a few weeks ago, I spilled out of a Franz Ferdinand gig at the Nottingham Arena and decided to look for somewhere to have a quick pint before heading home. The law had just changed, so I thought it would be simple. Wrong. I walked through town and forlornly peered through pub windows only to see that all the lights were switched off and the chairs were all stacked up on the tables. When I did finally find somewhere that was open though, it was great: there was a nice relaxed atmosphere, and I was able to enjoy a quiet pint to let the car park rush subside before heading home about midnight. This is how it should be.

Ben: The weekend before last, after having a meal with my parents, we all retired to The Old Fox in the city centre. The bar stayed open until 1.30am, and it made for a very pleasant and quiet late night drink (once the post-theatre crowd had left), a far cry from the raucous bars of the Arcadian, barely a stone’s throw away. It was in essence a whole new experience, and one that I can imagine will (re)introduce those who have felt alienated from social drinking for whatever reason (loud music, cramped bars, massive bar queues, being forced to stand) to its pleasures.

To what extent has it changed your own drinking habits?

Inspector Sands: Not a lot – although I'm lucky to drink somewhere that was never somewhere in a rush to throw you out at 11.20pm anyway. Where I go out is still going to be governed more by whether I like the place rather than whether it opens until 4am.

Pete: My drinking habits haven't changed much. If anything, they've reverted to the ones I had when I lived in Berlin and Prague: out more often, but drinking less ie "a cheeky pint in the evening".

Girl: It hasn't changed my drinking habits (yet) since I am sadly too busy to actually have a social life. But I am looking forward to going to my local and having a civilised pint sometime around midnight in a few weeks’ time.

Does the “European café culture” that we in Britain are supposedly aspiring to even exist on the continent?

Dave: I think the “European cafe culture” does exist but it's mainly for Europeans who are on holiday in other European countries. You may see Spanish folk sitting outside a Madrid city centre bar enjoying a drink at 3am but you won't see it in the suburbs of Madrid (I know this for a fact). I think we like to think that the French, Spanish and Italians are sophisticated drinkers because we've seen them when we're on holiday without realising that they are on holiday too. Late hours drinking has existed in Germany for years and you see some nasty violence on their streets at 5am.

Girl: From my experience being abroad, there most definitely is a "cafe culture", in that entire families go out no earlier than 10pm and drink until the late hours. The difference in other European countries is that their working hours are totally different to the UK's: they start earlier, have a break in the middle of the day, and then continue until late in the evening. So really, the whole going out later as a family thing is probably more to do with work schedules than anything particularly “cultural”.

Will we ever arrive at that sort of “culture”?

JonnyB: [We] might. But I doubt it. The idea that a basically administrative measure will change our national characteristics seems a bit bizarre to me.

Inspector Sands: Doubt it. We may end up starting our nights out a little later, though - good news for Friday nights, where the shit / shave / shower (or judicious application of lippy) can be undertaken in a more relaxed atmosphere. I was lucky enough to spend a Sunday night in Helsinki a couple of weeks back - bar open until 4am, most people starting their nights at around 10pm, starting to go home around 1am.

Swiss Toni: Liberalising the licensing laws may change the timings of a typical night out, but I would be surprised if it changes the way that people drink to any great extent.

Girl: I would hope that [“café culture”] might be possible in the UK too - as long as we can learn to be civilised with alcohol and not only drink it to get drunk. (I doubt it, but I have hope).

Swiss Toni: It’s not about the cafés, it’s about the way that people drink. In countries like France and Italy, drinking is part of the culture, but they don’t drink solely to get drunk. You might have a glass of wine with your lunch, or an aperitif in the evening after work, but the drink is not an end to itself. In this country (and to be fair, in some other countries in Europe, especially in Scandinavia), we drink to get drunk. This might change over time, but it might not.

Pete: We are highly unlikely to see a move to the café culture of Europe within the next decade. In any case, this idea has always been a bit of a misnomer, as plenty of Europeans drink themselves silly on a regular basis. Nevertheless, they somehow manage to do so without the consequences for policing (and in some cases health) that accompany many nights out in the UK. Perhaps it's a question of mentality and society. In the UK, Friday night is seen as an opportunity to go out and get wrecked. In fact, for some people the night has been wasted if they're not drunkenly spewing outside a kebab shop by midnight. Whereas in Europe, Friday is usually used as an opportunity to socialise and alcohol is merely one part of this.

What are the health implications of the change?

Girl: I imagine there will be quite a steep rise initially in alcohol-related incapacitation and accidents as a result of over-indulgence, but I would think these would be relatively temporary as the novelty of late-night drinking wears off in the coming months / years. As for long-term effects – well, I don't expect to see any decline in alcohol-related illnesses, put it that way.

Ben: As someone who certainly enjoys a drink and broadly welcomes the law change, one of my concerns is the fact that Scotland (where the licensing laws have been more liberal for years) has the least healthy population in Europe. There are undoubtedly numerous contributory factors to this, including diet and lifestyle, but it does make me wonder whether liberalisation was necessarily such a good move in England. Time will tell, of course – it’s far too early to say.

Swiss Toni: I don’t believe that it will mean we will have a sudden increase in the number of cases of cirrhosis, if that’s what you mean... I don’t think it will ultimately make much difference to the amount of booze that people drink, but hopefully it will be spread out over a longer period of time. Perhaps the A&E departments of our hospitals will see less of a rush around midnight and have the load better spread across the night?

Dave: Hospitals will hopefully now not be inundated with drunken injuries between 11 and 12pm.

Inspector Sands: Well, if you create a society of miserable wage slaves in debt up to their eyeballs, they're going to look for ways to escape it. I don't think the drinking hours themselves have that much to do with it - it's why people feel the need to get regularly legless, to continue their teenage habits into their 30s, that needs attention. Over the civilised dining tables of Islington and Notting Hill, I doubt it's much of a concern, though.

What are the implications of the change for policing?

Dave: More police will be needed for the first few years but I think this will settle down.

Swiss Toni: The big problem with the old British licensing laws are that they force everyone out into the street at the same time. British town centres are horrible after closing time; packs of drunks stagger about shouting, singing, pissing and throwing up. Changing the licensing laws may not reduce the total number of these drunks, but hopefully it will spread them out across the night, which has got to make it easier to police, hasn’t it?

Girl: Initially I think the police force may be put under some strain if the potential increase in public disorder overwhelms them. But overall I think staggered closing times for pubs and bars will see an end to “turfing-out time” and no longer will we have thousands of drunken people all on the streets at one time – which clearly was a recipe for disaster for all involved.

JonnyB: I'm not sure about the change, but soon we will find the police having even more massive recruitment problems. If police work becomes more and more “Saturday night being sworn at and hit by drunken yobs” then I can't see anything other than a big exodus of good people who joined up to help society by catching burglars.

Inspector Sands: More pissed-off and over-stretched police officers. Of course, we're a society that's taught you can always do things on the cheap, so naturally we forgot to make sure there's the coppers to police the change. Just like we forgot to make sure there's the buses home etc.

Ben: This is another of my concerns. If there is a major uptake of the new later licenses, then is there going to be a corresponding investment in the whole infrastructure surrounding the drinks industry? It’s unclear whether alcohol-fuelled disturbances will increase (the staggered closing times may help, but if they don’t the police already claim to be stretched to breaking point in terms of manpower and resources), but what is certain is that public transport links need to run later to cater for those who can’t afford a night out and an expensive taxi at the end of it. This additional money shouldn’t necessarily come from the public purse – the drinks industry is phenomenally profitable, and should foot more of the bill for policing and transport.

Is the Government sending out mixed messages by relaxing the licensing laws at the same time as it seeks to clamp down on binge drinking and anti-social behaviour?

Swiss Toni: No. People have got to take personal responsibility for the amount that they drink and the way that they behave. Government legislation is hardly likely to help. The Government should not be able to tell me when I can start drinking and when I can stop drinking. The old licensing laws were antiquated and needed to be changed. By all means inform people about the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption, but we don’t need a nanny state.

Inspector Sands: Not really, it always needs something to wring its hands about and avoid responsibility for. Changing the licensing laws was long overdue and something the Tories would surely have done if they'd have got in again in 1997. Binge drinking and anti-social behaviour are wider ills that'll never be cured under our current system.

Girl: Ambiguity is nothing new for governments – especially this Labour one. Seriously though, I don't think it’s a mixed message: English people need to learn to drink responsibly and stop behaving like morons and with staggered closing times meaning a smaller concentration of drunken people on the streets at any one time, I think it'll be less likely that there'll be fights.

Ben: As has been implied above, the relaxation of the licensing laws and the crackdown on / stigmatization of binge drinking needn’t be seen as contradictory measures. If people know bars are open later, then they’re less likely to feel the need to chuck as much lager as they possibly can down their neck in a short space of time.

Pete: I think a great deal of the UK's problems are down to the people behind the bar. There was a good report in the Observer a few weeks ago, describing how irresponsible many bar staff are when they serve people dangerous levels of alcohol. It is perhaps telling that the UK is the only country in Europe where so many high streets are full of "chain" pubs and bars such as Wetherspoons, Yates, JD Edwards etc whose main business objective is to sell as much alcohol as possible.

JonnyB: Not sure about “mixed messages” but it's a feeble way to go about things in isolation. Had they at the same time confronted the breweries by setting strict rules about factors like seating in pubs (as I understand it, there's strong evidence that this reduces unthinking consumption as people don't have to hold their pint all the time), the promotion of larger measures etc, then there might have been a little less cynicism. All sorts of things are relevant: pubs that want to put on live music are faced with nothing but legal obstruction rather than given the incentives that they should be – regardless of artistic reasons, they're providing a night out where you can have a few beers but that drinking isn't the “point” of the evening. There are all sorts of little things that could be done that would contribute, but nobody seems interested in tackling them.

Dave: I hate kids so kids in “family pubs” should be banned (while we're on this subject let’s ban them from supermarkets and cinemas too).

Pete: Ultimately, I think the Government has made a step in the right direction, but the desired results won’t occur with the space of a few weeks. It’s worth considering that there is still one step that the UK is yet to take. Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Greece and others allow drinking (wine and beer) at 16; Switzerland's minimum age is 14, while Poland and Portugal have no minimum drinking age. It would be interesting to see what the Government (and the public) would think of this option.

* * * * *

Thanks to Dave, Girl, Inspector Sands, JonnyB, Pete and Swiss Toni for their thoughts. Go ahead and add yours in the comments box.


What's New, Pussycat? is the home of an Aussie lady living in Edinburgh, and comes personally recommended by Jonathan (whose own site is a must-visit).


Pete discovers that not every band (and their fans) can shrug off a critical review penned by an enthusiastic gig-goer determined to expose himself to as much of the local music scene as he can in the space of a fortnight. No prizes for guessing who comes off looking rather foolish.


Dave rounds up his pick of the year's albums.

The Girl admires "the shape of the lead singer of Maximo Park’s arse".

Mike's Post Of The Week feature continues to throw up gems that would otherwise have passed me by - this week, this tale of coitus interruptus spectaculus from Acephalous (BTW best wishes for China, Mike!).

Inspector Sands recounts the time he went along to a school reunion - "Unfortunately, the undynamic duo who organised the night actually only had one motive in mind - to meet a woman they'd both fancied the arse off while we were at school".

Betty pleads for sanity and a victory for The Pop Group on the ITV's 'Record Of The Year', where they were up against such songs as "'Walking Through Town Is Quite SCAREY, A Man In A Tracksuit APPROACHED Me'" by The Kaiser Chiefs and "'You Climb Me Up The Highest Mountain'" by Westlife.

Bytheseashore guest edits Swiss Toni's Earworms Of The Week feature, his list featuring Franz Ferdinand, The Wedding Present, an imaginary bootleg of The Datsuns' 'Harmonic Generator' and The Beach Boys' 'Do It Again' and, er, Mariah Carey.

And finally...

Jonny B finally admits defeat and bases a post on the sort of event that would have the rest of us itching to get at the computer, rather than working his usual magic on anecdotes about moving tables in pubs. More blog posts should begin with the line: "...which is the piece of skin between the vagina and the bumhole"...
A black and white and red and white Christmas

Jingle those bells! Joyous news! Barry Hyde and Jaff of The Futureheads and the brothers Brewis of Field Music have teamed up along with an assortment of other North Easterners including This Ain't Vegas, The Golden Virgins, Kathryn Williams and ex-members of Kenickie to record a cover of 'The Twelve Days Of Christmas'. It's due for release on Monday, but as it's limited edition and likely to be sold out, you're probably best off going here to hear it.

And the best thing about it? The collective are calling themselves The Joseph & Mary Chain.

As the website says: "Even if you aren't bothered about the charity, you should still buy the record because it's mint". And I can assure you that that, in the North Eastern vernacular, is the highest form of praise.

(Thanks to Simon for the links.)
'Tis the season...

... of lists and mellow fruitfulness. Stylus's Top 50 Singles Of 2005 is the popist antidote to my forthcoming and inevitably rockist selection, and features comments and voting contributions by Mike and Ian. You'll not read a better assessment of the joys of The Futureheads' 'Hounds Of Love' than the one penned by Paul Scott - certainly not here in the next couple of weeks, anyway.

Incidentally, 'tis also the season for Meg and Anna's 'Tis The Season, the festive blog which this year features contributions from Jonny B.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Animal magic

That esteemed unofficial organ of the Birmingham tourist industry, Birmingham: It's Not Shit, has recently held its vote for Brummie Of The Year.

Baggies supporting 'Match Of The Day 2' and 'Working Lunch' presenter Adrian Chiles came out third with 83 votes, while West Midlands rock survivor Dave Kusworth amassed 226 votes but was narrowly pipped in second place.

The winner, by an extraordinarily slender margin of just five votes? Babu the red panda, whose escape from Birmingham Nature Centre made the national news just over a month ago. Personally speaking, I think calling yourself a panda when you're really a rusty overgrown ferret is a bit rich, but then who am I to begrudge the award to a creature that managed to survive in the wilds of the city for four days before being found?

I'm a bit disappointed by the lack of an acceptance speech, mind. Surely Babu could have mustered something, even if it was the usual platitudinous tripe about thanking God, Allah, his parents and Birmingham Nature Centre's Keeper of Pandas.

(Thanks to Alison for the link.)
Quote of the day

"When I pass protestors every day at Downing Street, and believe me, you name it, they protest against it, I may not like what they call me, but I thank God they can. That's called freedom".

Tony Blair, 7th April 2002.

Thanks to Our World Our Say for highlighting Blair's unequivocal defence of freedom of speech in a week during which a woman was convicted of reading out a list of names of British soldiers killed in service in Iraq by the Cenotaph in Whitehall.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Hair's apparent


The Different Kettle Of Fish Super Special Christmas Fandango - and quite possibly the last ever ADKOF night - doesn't get off to the best of starts.

First of all, on entry we're confronted with a sign which reads: "Due to bad illness Hooker will not be playing". They are one of the main reasons I've come - and this is the second time they've dropped out and left ADKOF impressario Phill in a bit of a pickle. He's done his best to ascertain the validity of the aforementioned "bad illness" - apparently the drummer has an abcessed tooth and sounded dreadful on the phone - even going so far as to research the condition online.

Second of all, Motorcycle Stunts. An indication of what they're all about: stool-perching and furrowed brows feature heavily. There are the occasional glimpses of something more promising, and the vocalist's voice is not without power (though his lyrics are), but sadly for the most part it's over-serious, over-emotive, under-written and under-imagined stodge. And to lay claim to a band name that connotes excitement and daring - you familiar with the Trades Descriptions Act, lads?

A tad harsh? Well, perhaps. Because as it turns out, they're the perfect opening act for what follows. And what follows is quite remarkable.

The Pubic Fringe are personal favourites of eccentric curmudgeon Mark E Smith of The Fall, with whom they've toured, and approximately thirty seconds into their set they're one of mine too. Immaculately abrasive yet extraordinarily tight, they're a brutal psychobilly covers band roughly (and that's the operative word here) in the mould of The Cramps with nods and winks in the direction of The Birthday Party and The Stooges.

They sound like they've forgotten to take their medication. Like there's other people's skin under their fingernails. Like if they weren't on stage they'd be in the gutter eating dog-ends.

Vocalist Nazi Sinatra is the inevitable focal point. Clad in a tasselled cowboy shirt, he lurches back and forth apparently using the mic stand for support and chainsmoking, a fact which immediately explains his extraordinary rasping growl.

The set careers through a series of stomping three-minute songs before reaching its peak with a much longer number about "old-time religion" which might be what The Doors would have sounded like (criminally lame rock hack cliche alert!) had they experimented with ketamine rather than LSD and spent their days chewing their own arms off.

Under the circumstances, for me to stand tapping my foot and nodding my head is akin to saying "Excuse me, would you mind leaving me alone - there's a good chap" while being savaged by a rabid pitbull. This music demands a rather less restrained and polite reaction. Curse that English reserve.

A remarkable band, then. And, perhaps most remarkably, they're from Stourbridge.

And then from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Trash Fashion left Birmingham for London seeking fame and fortune like modern day Dick Whittingtons, and their homecoming has enticed a number of "the Custerati" (copyright Phill) to stray from their spiritual home and into the sort of grotty venue they'd normally avoid at all costs. And that means assymmetrical haircuts and unusual and colourful mix 'n' match clothing. Of course, they only appear from upstairs once The Pubic Fringe have exited stage right. What a shame - it would have been entertaining to have watched them getting a new arsehole torn.

When Trash Fashion appear, they too are quite something visually. A guitarist with a bizarre ponytail-meets-Kajagoogoo haircut, a single dangly earring and a bright orange jumpsuit. A vocalist wearing a black hat, a skeleton mask, a pair of shades and a long black mac, soon discarded to reveal nothing but a pair of black 80s football shorts. And, er, a drummer with a mohawk.

And when they start playing, my first thought is of EMF gone cock rock.

My next thought is that they're the band Dan Ashcroft would unequivocally slate in Sugarape only for the Nathan Barleys of this world to read the piece, take it as an ironic commentary and flock to their gigs for fear of missing out on the hippest thing going. The idiots.

To be fair to Trash Fashion, they're not exactly serious, singing about "meat and two veg" and ditching the guitars mid-set and coming over like an electro Goldie Lookin Chain for a song about rave culture.

It's about this point when my interest is at its peak (though even then I'm viewing them with detachment if not suspicion from the back of the room), but it soon goes downhill again, and the utterly rubbish encore is an awful mistake.

The moral of the evening's tale? Beware the tide of fashion - it's often more honourable and infinitely more dignified to be washed up on the shore than to strive to stay at the crest of the wave.

To mark the death of ADKOF, on leaving the venue Phill ceremoniously launches a leftover mince pie into the canal (oh sorry, did I forget to mention that you missed out on food too?). Its silver foil tray glints in the moonlight as the baked goods arc towards the water. We laugh (though internally several tears are shed) and walk off into the night.

Who knows what happened next. I like to think that the pie rose Excalibur-like from the depths, and that ADKOF will live on - though not like some freakish Frankenstein's monster that runs amok out of the control of its creator, obviously...

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Reasons To Be Cheerful #13

(If you're wondering what this is all about, click here.)

The Actress & Bishop

No, not the beginning to the sort of joke you might find on a saucy postcard on the seafront at Blackpool, but the name of a very fine public house / gig venue.

Situated on Ludgate Hill just off the picturesque St Paul's Square and opposite an intriguing Mongolian restaurant, The Actress & Bishop has several things going for it - not least its reasonable bar prices, unfussy decor and friendly atmosphere, all of which compare favourably (at least personally) to trendier and more upmarket neighbours like The Tarnished Halo.

Of a weekend, the downstairs pub area is packed with punters relaxing to the voluminous output of a couple of DJs (the Yeah Yeah Yeahs appear to be a particular favourite). Upstairs, meanwhile, is a small room with a bar, stage and remarkably impressive sound system, which is cosy rather than cramped and in which at least some of the rudimentary lighting is provided by a curious tassel-fringed standard lamp perched on a dividing wall to the side of the stage.

Not surprisingly, the place has a long list of regulars, perhaps the most entertaining of whom is the grey-bearded West Indian gentleman who once, when showing off his collection of whistles, claimed that his son was Howard from the Halifax adverts and proceeded to repeatedly exclaim "Extra! Extra!" and laughing loudly.

The Actress & Bishop's "characters" aren't confined to the punters, though. Special mention must be reserved for the upstairs venue's resident soundman, who has that receding hairline / long hair combination that makes it look as though his toupee's slipping backwards and who appears to have a strange obsession with early Prince records. Fair play to him, though - every band that appears on his stage sounds fantastic.

It's D-Day over on The Art Of Noise, where you'll find (amongst others) me chuntering about 'Dancing Queen', Damo lauding Domino Records, new boy Del celebrating Daft Punk and Jez pondering whether he's been deceived by dry ice.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Christmas come early

‘Tis the season when the thoughts of anally retentive music-obsessed bloggers like myself begin to turn towards the task of compiling end-of-year lists.

This year is no different. As has become as traditional round these ‘ere parts as mince pies, mistletoe and drink-driving are amongst the general populace, I’ll be posting the SWSL Top 10 Albums Of The Year and Top 10 Gigs Of The Year shortly – I’m still undecided as to whether there’ll be a Top 20 Singles Of The Year this time around, though.

Before that happens though (and expect it a bit closer to Christmas), I thought I’d get in the charitable festive spirit by way of thanking you for reading. Allow me to explain further…

A few weeks back, Jonathan of that fine fount of online entertainment Crinklybee began posting the sleeve notes he made for an indiepop mixtape put together for a friend (the posts have also appeared on The Art Of Noise). I expressed an interest in getting hold of a copy, and Jonathan kindly did it all over again for my benefit.

In return, I put together a compilation of some of my favourite singles and album tracks of the year – as much as I could fit on a 60 minute cassette. None of that new-fangled CD or MP3 shit here, my friends – this was old school. The tracklisting ran as follows:

Side A

1. The Go! Team – ‘Ladyflash’
2. Eels – ‘Hey Man (Now You’re Really Living)’
3. Franz Ferdinand – ‘I’m Your Villain’
4. Maximo Park – ‘Apply Some Pressure’
5. Idlewild – ‘I Understand It’
6. Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – ‘Mama’
7. Queens Of The Stone Age – ‘I Never Came’
8. The Raveonettes with Ronnie Spector – ‘Ode To LA’

Side B

1. Bloc Party – ‘So Here We Are’
2. Sufjan Stevens – ‘Chicago’
3. The Arcade Fire – ‘Crown Of Love’
4. Sigur Ros – ‘Milano’
5. Low – ‘Death Of A Salesman’

So here’s the rub: if you’d like a copy and you don’t mind being patient and receiving a cassette (or, more to the point, you still have the means to play a cassette), then ask me nicely in an email to and I’ll see what I can do. Can’t say fairer than that, eh?

Monday, December 05, 2005

You know you're getting old when...

... you find yourself laughing - yes, LAUGHING, not just chuckling - along to Terry Wogan's Radio 2 show in the morning. It was a sign.

Cheers to (amongst others) Phill, Kate and Andy for helping to make Friday such a belting night.