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October 12, 2007

Now That, I Do Like…

Filed under: music, reviews, authors, Topics, Dr T. — drt @ 6:28 am

Once again Phoenix Phil has selected some cuts for me to cast my withering eye of musical authoritarianism over. Another poor selection, which does little to make me homesick for old Blighty.

Maximo Park - Girls Who Play Guitar
Instant minus points for sloppy grammar. And the singer’s wearing a hat. A hat. It’s the sort of thing that makes me want to side with James Spader and bully Duckie.
If you had played this song to me 10 years ago, I would have told you that “This ‘A’ album is on the wrong speed.”

Judging by the singing, Maximo Park are from up North, perhaps they’re geordies. Unfortunately so are The Wildhearts, a band who sh!t all over Maximo Park from such a great height, their Wildheart poos become little meteorites on their way down.

The video is your bog standard band live miming with the fan club invited in for the crowd shots. Ho hum. Almost makes me pine for Feeder.

Athlete - Hurricane
You see, the problem with Athlete’s career path is that they’ve just skipped to the ‘Sold Out Coldplay nonsense’ part, missing out on the traditional arc of Angry Beginnings, Just Signed Optimism, Grand Designs, Disillusionment, and Debt.

Musically redundant and creatively dead. What’s wrong with people these days, and their attitude of “sod it, this’ll have to do, hope we can get an advert contract.”

I gave you a fair hearing Athlete, and I find you guilty of musical negligence. Your punishment is to listen to the song ‘The Hive’ by Jimmy Webb (sung by Richard Harris) over and over and over and over until you are driven to the brink of madness.

And your video was crap too. Lots of little building blocks being animated and doing not a lot. Build me a wall dammit, I feel one of my turns coming on…

Babyshambles - Delivery
Weren’t The Libertines fun? At least they didn’t skip straight to ripping off Coldplay. And kudos must be given to Pete ‘Needles’ Doherty for ripping off ‘On A Rope’ by Rocket From The Crypt, in his song ‘Delivery’.

Of course he gets minus points for wearing a hat in the video. And for being in the video too much. Delivery, misery… At least it’s well timed for those postal strikes.

Unfortunately the song is about the song being delivery straight to his lover’s heart (is he still going out with Kate Moss? Actually, don’t tell me, I don’t care). Yes, it’s a ‘meta song’ a song about a song. I suppose if he were to write her a poem it would go:

This is a poem about
The poem I’m sending out
That you are reading
Words I am writing
This poem right now
I just don’t know how
Being a proper cockernee
Show me to the skag please.

I am so unimpressed with this song, only a youtube search for the ‘Pain For Pleasure’ bit of ‘Fat Lip’ by Sum 41 can brighten my day.
Aah that was a lot of fun.

Anyway, now I DO LIKE…
Girls Aloud - Sexy! No No No
Or more correctly: Sexy! yes. Yes. YES! Except they’re looking a bit gothy in this video, which is a bit of a turn off frankly. Nice PVC catsuits though.

Actually the song isn’t as good as some of their earlier stuff, but being a man of principles, I must teach these lazy indie boys a lesson and recommend some corporate pop over their shallow outpourings. People’s standards are so low these days, and real musical appreciation has reached such a nadir, it’s only fitting that a gaggle of lovely girls can hold my attention for longer than the tepid whining of these unimaginative pricks with guitars.

In the Girls Aloud video, the concept appears to be that they are in a pin cushion. Girls Aloud are pin cushions if you will. Now that’s a new euphemism to my tired ears…

August 30, 2007

Now That, I Do Like…

Filed under: music, reviews, authors, Topics, Dr T. — drt @ 1:08 pm

Once again Phoenix Phil has selected some prime cuts for me to chew on. Where’s me Gaviscon? That reminds me, I must write to Gaviscon and pitch my advert where I rewrite the Jimmy Webb song ‘Galveston’ as an indigestion jingle…

Kate Nash - Foundations
You know the bit in Alan Partridge where he says to the hotel receptionist “Don’t sing! It sounds baaad!” and the joke is, is that she has a very pretty voice. Well, that Partridge quote went through my head whilst I watched this promo video, except it was no joke. Now, I have a certain fondness for the Estuary Accent, seeing as I grew up in Saaf East Inglund, (innit). But it doesn’t make for a good singing voice. Give me the received pronunciation of Black Box Recorder’s Sarah Nixey any day. Mmmmm.

Not only does the voice grate, but she can’t pull a Bob Dylan and write decent lyrics to distract us from her Vicky Pollard vocal stylings. For example: “Every time we fight I know it’s not right [m’kay?], bla bla [lost interest], I know I should forget but I can’t. [m’kay?]” And that’s the chorus (such as it is). Not exactly deep or revelatory stuff. No wonder men run a mile when girls want to talk about feelings - since it is basically an interrogation about a subject discussed at a meeting you were never invited to.

And the video? I can only conclude that the director hated the song as much as me, and made the video as literal as possible, so that viewers can mute the sound and still get the gist. In the song she sings about sucking lemons and so in the video she’s… “SUCKING LEMONS”. In the song she sings about fighting, and so in the video she’s… “WEARING BOXING GLOVES BECAUSE BOXING IS FIGHTING AND FIGHTING’S BAD [m’kay?]”

I think the only good thing I can say about her is that unlike most other would-be celebrities, she looks “achievable”.

Jack Penate - Torn On The Platform
Is this guy trying to be James Blunt? No, he’s changed his mind and now he wants to be in Madness. Oh, no, wait, he’s just got really into The Libertines. A glorious melting pot of styles, this is not.

He’s ‘Torn On The Platform’, but I don’t know why. Due to the half-arsed rhyme in the title, he tries to make up for it later in the song by rhyming… THE SAME WORD. “Lies lies lies” “Down down down”. Well wouldn’t you know?! “Lies” rhymes with “lies”. Wow. Someone buy this man some quality hip hop, and maybe some Dr Seuss books just in case. I look forward to his second album called “The Cat In The Flat” or some such.

The video is almost clever, with Mr Penate being a little cut out theatre man, but it keeps cutting back to the tubby lazybones’ basement band practice. “Hey guys, let’s combine Dido, UB40, and Arctic Monkeys!”

Interpol - The Heinrich Maneuver
Finally, a band I’ve heard of. Shame the song sucks. Bad Interpol. Go and stand in the corner and write a chorus for next time.

The video seems like it’s going to be a little bit conceptual, seeing as the camera just pulls back to reveal more of the scene…
Ooh, she looks nice.
Is that Sting on the phone? No.
Why is that waiter guy running?
Nope, she’s not as fit as I was expecting.
Waiter guy’s still running, he’s shouting I think.
That girl’s crossing the road, bet she gets run over.
Yep. The end.

All I want to know is how did the waiter in the background know the girl was going to get run over? He appeared to be warning the girl well before she stepped in front of that bus…

Finally, if you’re going to do a pun as a song title, it’s best to either (a) make it a proper pun with a meaning, or (b) have the meaning in the song. Neither of which are present here. The song might as well have been called ‘Droidian Slip’ or ‘Town’s Syndrome’.

Now, I DO “like”…
Operator Please - Just A Song About Ping Pong
I like this because it is a small mercy that this track clocks in at about two and a half minutes. And also because some kids might mistakenly download ‘Ping Pong’ by Stereolab instead, which is great.

From what I can tell, this is not a song actually about ping pong, rather, ‘ping pong’ is in the title and they sing the line “This is just a song about ping pong”. Well, it’s marginally better than ‘This is a song about sing song’ I guess.

At first I thought this was a novelty single. Maybe the band had read ‘The Manual’ but the skipped (the best) chapters about ‘The Golden Rules’. “Maybe they’re ‘The Indie Aqua’” I thought to myself… But judging by the video they’re quite young, and from the general ineptitude of pretty much every single musical aspect of the song, I can only conclude that it’s some school project that’s caught the zeitgeist.

It’s the sort of thing that the club kids will obviously lap up, what with its stupid hook, and the slow down - stop -start - GO! bit at the end. But remember, it wasn’t so long ago that we all thought ‘Danger! High Voltage’ was the bees knees, and who listens to it now?

July 16, 2007

Transformers - The Review by Dr T

Filed under: film, reviews, authors, Topics, Dr T. — drt @ 3:23 pm

TRANSFORMERS

I’ve still got the original Optimus Prime toy. OK, so it’s in my old bedroom in Kent, but my Mum has strict orders to NEVER throw it away. I know what I’m talking about when it comes to Transformers. I was teased at primary school for reading the comics when the rest of the kids were, I dunno, reading whatever was considered cool when you’re ten years old. The Hasbro target market aside, I am exactly the kind of person who the new Transformers movie was made for.

My initial joy at the news of a new Transformers movie was somewhat diminished when Michael Bay was revealed to be the director. Like all cinephiles, I know that of all the directors to admire (Godard, Herzog, Hartley, Kurosawa et al), Mr Bay’s name is never to be mentioned. He seems to want to craft entire films from strings of overstated, hamfisted cliches. The slo-mo, the contra slow music/action sequence, the silhouettes against the sun, the parallax meeting room pan, the ratcheting up of the tension by adding a pointless little kid into the mix, if the list were endless it would at least credit Mr Bay with imagination, but his bag of tricks is shallow indeed.

However, not even Michael Bay can go wrong with the formula of “Big F**k Off Robots Tw@tting Each Other And Transforming Into Cool Stuff”. I mean, what right minded person doesn’t want to see an F-22 fighter jet change mid-flight into a robot that leaps onto a pursuing jet, and then onto another one, smashing them all up with glee… It’s precisely this sort of spectacle that makes one forget about the humdrum reality of inept car-bombs and inconvenient truths.

This film looks amazing. Finally CGI has reached a point where you forget that the robots aren’t really there, not nuts and bolts, just bits and bytes. Although they lack the clean lines of their 80s incarnations, these robots do still look cool. I was a bit disappointed to see that they’d done away with Prime’s face guard and given him a moving mouth (I always thought the old style face guard gave Prime a ‘knight-like’ quality). But I was equally pleased to see that they’d given up on the whole “Megatron is a giant robot that can shrink into a hand-held gun” contradiction. In the film, he’s a flying… something. I know my military jets, and I couldn’t place it.

Apparently the fanboys are up in arms about “Frenzy being the new Jar Jar Binks”. It all comes down to a mis-step in sound effects. The foley artists should have just done some sinister whirring sounds and clicks, but no, it seems they decided to give this Decepticon master of infiltration the personality of Jabba’s Annoying Little Helper from ROTJ. That was wrist slap number one.

Wrist slap number two is that the action sequences are cut too fast. You never really get a proper look at what’s going on, with the camera zooming here and there, and then going all shakey hand-held docudrama style. I’m sure it adds to the visceral impact of the movie and illustrates the madness of war, but really, I’ve seen ‘Saving Private Ryan’, now I just want to see that giant robot shoot up some tanks, the human tragedy of it all can wait til later.

All in all, a great watch. It could have been a LOT worse. It’s no ‘Battlestar Galactica’ quality re-imagining, but it’s certainly Michael Bay’s best film. It’s got some good humour, the girl is well fit, and there’s GIANT ROBOTS BASHING SEVEN SHADES OF CRAP OUT OF EACH OTHER! Come on!

July 1, 2007

Now That, I Do Like…

Filed under: music, reviews, authors, PhoeniX Phil, Topics, Dr T. — drt @ 3:12 pm

 

 

 (Hi, This is PhoeniX PhiL. While watching Mtv2 drunk & bored at my mums a few weeks ago i wondered what my ex-housemate Dr.T would make of it all. He has always been a grumpy old so and so and I missed his barbed citicisms and confusion of how the kids would pay £12.99 for a Datsuns album while cruelly ignoring the Todd Rundgren cd’s in the sale section. I sent him 4 videos to look at and these were his “findings”.. enjoy. )

 

In the hectic self conscious city of London, everyone is looking at everyone else. What are the new bands?
Should I like what I think I like, or like what I think that fit girl likes, even though she WAS reading the NME on the bus. Sometimes it’s easier to just says ‘Yes’ to hipness, but at what cost? Just what kind of faustian pact are the young people of today making?

Perhaps what the youth of today needs is guidance.
Dispassionate advice from someone far away, removed from the pressures of fashion and of peers.

So, let me peruse these selections made for me by Phoenix Phil, and give you my thoughts:

First up with have CSS with ‘Let’s Make Love To Death from Above’
The youtube info says that they are from Sao Paulo. And they’re probably very proud of that, but I’m confused, because I thought Brazil was meant to be chocka with bronzed beauties. Of course looks aren’t everything (that’s why I rely on books), but in these days of saturated hip-hop video clips, there’s no reason not to throw in at least a couple of lovely ladies. People have expectations you know.

Are ‘Death From Above’ another band I’ve never heard of? Do I want to make love to them? Do I even want to make love with them playing concurrently on the stereo? Does Brazil still have those death squads that Sepultura used to sing about? Are the band named after the online shooter CounterStrike Source? Big questions one and all. Answers on a postcard.

As for the video and the song… Well, some ‘Mid Standard Distribution Curve’ girls and a moustachioed guy miming in various urban locations is your standard lo-budget indie clip. The song is unremarkable, lacks hooks, and perfect for the less discerning hormone addled p!ssed up booty shakers, who will love this song by the vague associated memories it conjures of flickering lights and blurred boobs.

Next, Editors with ‘Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors’.
First, lets quickly deal with the musical content of this offering:
Five piss poor minutes of Coldplay bumming Interpol.

Now, this video director knows his stuff, because it stars a pretty girl. Thank you Mr Director for sparing us 300 merciless seconds of some scruffs emoting in a warehouse. The plot (such as it is) of this promotional clip is as follows: ‘Girl escapes from loonie bin, is helped by prossies, pikeys and the littlest hobo, gets into a boat, walks on water, runs away from scruffy singer of the band, into forest and freedom’.

I suppose the message of the clip is that even beautiful crazy people want to be free, and hey, we’re all a bit beautiful and crazy, and you’re free to buy this record! Also, Jesus was a nutter (thus solving the ‘mad, bad, or messiah’ conundrum).

Well Editors, my definite article has come to this conclusion: You can stick your sepia toned, Eastern European clip up where the customs people look. Thanks to youtube, I can watch Alizee’s ‘Moi Lolita’ clip as many times as my wife will let me, and that piece of seedy French pop says all there is to say about beautiful crazy girls on the run.

Thirdly, we have The Klaxons and their ’song’ - ‘It’s Not Over Yet’ So these are The Klaxons. If this quiet loud quiet loud dirge is representative of their output, then their monicker is well chosen. I was expecting better production. I suppose the whole ‘how can this music be called rave?’ discussion has long since worn itself out. And I suppose a promo video pitch called ‘Band ‘x’ are New Romantic Ninjas Fighting Geometric Shapes In Superman’s Fortress Of Solitude’ can’t fail to be commissioned. Bravo. One very strange man’s vision has become reality.

This fuzzy nothing of a song has no redeeming features, and is just mildly objectionable noise.

Style over substance by definition never goes out of fashion, more’s the pity.

Now, I do like…
Biffy Clyro and their song ‘Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies’ I didn’t quite catch all the lyrics to this song, but I’m pretty confident that Biffy Clyro haven’t fully explored the philosophical implications of their song title (does ‘everything’ die? Even rocks? Define your terms etc etc). But, as Douglas Adams admirably points out, sometimes just knowing the question is important.

It’s clever move by Biffy Clyro, going for the niche market of ‘Doom Indie’, especially given that this track can be best described as ‘emo-Fear Factory for boys (as opposed to Men)’. Half time changes, punctuated drumkit sections, the spoonful of sugar in the hint of synth. It’s all there. But not quite as shouty and fast. And the intro had me hoping for something more along Pet Shop Boys lines, but twas not to be…

The promo video takes in a few staples of the metal genre, low light, underground, water on the drumkit for lovely sprays in slow motion for the camera. Tattoos and guitars in close up, and plenty of silhouettes and shouting. In other words, just about every Morbid Angel, Carcass and Prong video clip rolled into one (Prong? I hear you ask… Look up ‘Snap Your Fingers Snap your Neck’ on youtube). I suppose this track gets my thumbs up because it reminds me of staying up til the early hours waiting to watch ‘Raw Power’ on ITV.

In the land of the arseholes, the half arsed is king.

June 16, 2007

Clerks 2 - The Review by Dr T

Filed under: film, reviews, authors, Topics, Dr T. — drt @ 3:19 pm

Well.. It’s better than ‘Jersey Girl’…

Let me elaborate:

It’s not brilliant, but not bad. Frustating flashes of genius generally sullied by a persistantly emotional streak. And waaaay too much ‘MTV Epiphanies’ where people think about what they’re going to do with their life by mutely staring whilst the soundtrack plays a nice rock song. And K Smith can’t get on my good side by using ‘1979′ either.

There’s some great discussions of LOTR and Star Wars, with Randall really laying into the gaye hobbits. The Transformers movie is discussed, and the term ‘Go Bot’ is used perjoratively, which I found ‘delicious’.

Jay and Silent Bob are relegated to their usual background roles, with hardly any good material.

I found Randall to be a bit too much of a bully, although you might be able to sympathise if you’re 33 and still working in a burger joint. I’d be angry and frustrated too…

Plot Spoiler LOOK AWAY AND SCROLL DOWN A BIT IF NECESSARY….

The script seemed to be building up to Dante having to make a ‘decision’ because early on in the film he was persistantly refered to as the guy who let other people (women in particular) make the decisions for him, and so you think “well I guess he will have to pick between the two ladies”, except halfway through the film, one of the ladies turns out to be pregnant, so that pretty much takes most of the decision out of his hands. And by doing so, makes the character arc redundant from a dramatic point of view.

YOU CAN LOOK NOW…
In the end, Kevin Smith has made a rather smutty “do what your heart tells you, because that’s where real happiness lies” flick. It is the literal definition of “ne’er fish nor fowl”, too sappy in places, too smutty in others. The hardcore fans will not be satisfied, and the Bridget Jones Brigade will turn off in disgust.

To Sum Up:
Worth a rental, wait for the sales, not as bad as ‘Jersey Girl.’

Memorable (Randall) line from the film:
“The next step up from a girl with a large cl!t is a guy with a tiny d!ck.”

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