Post Acid Youth

Disillusioned 'Journalism'

Penrith Calling?

Confused? I know i was. It turns out that Kendal Calling 2009 was in fact 5 miles outside of Penrith and nowhere fucking near Kendal itself. Mental note taken i walked the mile from the entrance to the campsite and settled in for a weekend of overpriced vegetarian food, warm lager and supposedly an interview with the Rumble Strips, did they get in touch i hear you ask? Did. They. Fuck. Oh yes, and music! Forgot about that one.

I’ll be honest and say i have been tardy (yes, i’ve become a 1960’s US schoolteacher, shush) with this article, it’s undergone several rewrites where i’ve tried to chronicle every band i saw, but then i realised you probably don’t give a fuck anyway; so i’m going to look at 4 bands i saw that i feel sufficently passionate about that i feel i can write something that could be called a legitimate piece of prose. It’s to this end i’ve gone right back to square one and am writing this in one sitting, publishing it and never looking at it again so apologies if it comes across as an aimless rant.

The King Blues - A Band Lacking Direction?

The King Blues - A Band Lacking Direction?

The first band i’d like to talk about were in fact the last band i saw all weekend, i’m a sucker for mixing things up aren’t i? They were London’s King Blues, now this in itself is a name i was sceptical about revivalist ska is not for me at the best of times let alone when it sounds like B.B. King’s newest album title, however i cast my suspicions aside and dove (not literally) into the sweaty masses filling the tent. What i found were an honest, charismatic band filled with righteous anger and a strong political stance delivered in a terrible way. The thing that really got my goat (all about the archaic phrases today folks, it’s like i’ve had a pint of the dictionary washed down neatly with a Scott F. Fitzgerald chaser) about them was the politics part, now i have absolutely no problem with politics in music, however it has to be done either eloquently with an aim to make a real difference (see Bob Dylan and the voter rallies) or balls out anarchic anger (see every Rage Against the Machine track ever), the problem the King Blues have is they are stradding the fence and accomplish neither.

The highlight was a piece of spoken word performed as a section of the encore called ‘Five Types Of Shampoo‘ or something to that effect, it was a poignant, eloquent piece about womens rights and laddish attitudes towards girls that are more prevalent now than ever, in short it was a direct piece which everyone in the audience could have learnt something from, myself included. On the other hand however was a short speech where they ranted against the BNP, called for ‘human rights for all’ before encouraging people to ‘go to a BNP meeting and turn over the tables, get rid of the fuckers’, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to notice the hypocrisy involved in this statement. Now, i don’t want to delve too deep into politics here, i wholeheartedly agree with combatting the BNP but in democratic ways, it’s impossible to claim human rights and democracy for all whilst encouraging people to ransack a legal meeting of a ‘political’ party, i in no way condone their views but i will fight to the fucking death to defend their right to say it. More to the point, and this pertains to anti-BNP gigs everywhere, it’s simply preaching to the choir, i would be willing to put money on nobody in that audience being a fully paid up BNP member, the King Blues claim they want to ‘save the world’ and i think they should start by getting out there in the faces of those who they claim to oppose, rather than a bunch of 14+ young adults who aren’t likely to hold those views to begin with. The reason the BNP got elected wasn’t that they received more votes (they in fact received less) it’s that apathy against our current political climate was such that nobody got off their arse to vote, this would be a far more productive point to get across and would probably mean their audience’s politics were more informed and mature.

But y’know, barring that rather serious aside, they were actually pretty good, whilst the rhetoric in many of their songs was pretty cringeworthy i couldn’t fault them for sheer effort and commitment (the singer defied doctor’s orders so he could play the gig) and the crowd hopefully repaid them in kind, they were certainly an interesting end to the weekend and sent people away talking which i guess is half the battle.

Jeremey Warmsley, just the right amount of self deprecation

Jeremey Warmsley, just the right amount of self deprication

Next up was Jeremy Warmsley, playing to a pulsating crowd of, oh i dunno, 25 people? Now i’d always had the impression that Mr Warmsley was a poor mans Patrick Wolf (potentially the worst insult of all time depending on your tastes, i’m tempted to add it to my repetoire as in: ‘Oasis are just a poor mans Patrick Wolf’ or ‘that film was just a poor mans Patrick Wolf’, try it at home!) but it turns out i may well have been wrong. Long ago i had been handed a copy of his debut album The Art Of Fiction and i’m sorry to say it got maybe half a listen before being chucked onto the ‘should probably listen to that again before forming an opinion’ pile, however in true Noel Gallagher fashion i jumped blindly into the matter and formed an opinion anyway resulting in my coming across a fuckwit by criticising a perfectly legitimate and talented headline act with an opinion of rank stupidity, what, wait…that was him?! Ah yes, course it was. the point however is this: I was wrong about Jeremy Warmsley.

On a stage so small that his bass player had to duck his head just to play, he performed a set marked by accomplished songs, pithy asides and one drunk man dancing at the front of the stage. Warmsley has clearly had the raw end of the deal, if he dressed as a glam-rock paedophile (don’t you dare tell me you wouldn’t jump to conclusions if you saw him near a real merry-go-round) he might now be ensconced in a love affair with the NME and popular music press. As it is he’s left playing to a Cumbrian audience who i’m reasonably sure had never heard of him, and left with self-depreciating utterances to tiny audiences: ‘this is a song from my second album which was roundly ignored by the music media, but was a fucking masterpiece’. A masterpiece might be slightly strong, but tracks such as ‘Lose My Cool’ are enough to make a case for serious talent, and a Maps-esque groove on ‘How We became’ assured i left suitably imrpessed. There are far less deserving people garnering masses of media attention right now and it seems a waste that somebody with such drive (he met people afterwards to sell customised cd’s which i am sorry to say i didn’t have the cash to buy) and obvious talent languishes as a relative unknown. It just hardly seems fair when at roughly the same time Twisted Wheel were pedalling their turgid Britpop revival-by-numbers garbage to a crowd of thousands on the Main Stage, y’know? Maybe you don’t, but either way i suggest you go out and purchase a copy of his second album ‘How We Became‘ at somepoint in the near future, as it’s pretty fucking good.

Fight Like Apes! Britains second best primate related band.

Fight Like Apes! Britain's second best primate related band.

The headline act i saw on the first day were Ireland’s finest Fight Like Apes!, at this stage of proceedings i was what could fairly be called ‘reasonably inebriated’, had befriended a random bloke in the audience and was accepting free drinks from him. In short i was about one more Red Stripe away from a date rape, it is then understandable that i thought that this band were fucking blinding, and even more understandable that i was sceptical about this view when i returned home (i had after all just consumed by body weight in Rufalin, i had also just seen Goldie Lookin’ Chain, so anything was gonna be pretty good wasn’t it?). Thankfully this wasn’t the case, at the risk of sounding like a staff writer for the NME, Fight Like Apes! are the musical equivalent of my dog. Yes folks, we’ve entered the ‘pretty shit metaphor’ section of the article, what i mean by this is from the outside they’re cute, fluffy and pretty adorable, but upon closer inspection you’ll find them to be a nasty bastard with a tendancy to bite you, y’dig? At the time i likened their live performance to ‘Enter Shikari covering Blondie’ and i still feel it’s a reasonably apt comparison, their music spits and snarls but at all times maintains a slightly twee-pop demeanour that allows them to flit between genre’s pretty effortlessly. Singer MayKay’s Bellatrix Lestrange hair aside (a Harry Potter reference! And you thought we were pretentious!) i couldn’t find anything about them, or their album, the amusingly titled ‘And The Mystery of The Golden Medallion‘. ‘Something Global’ is an articulate swipe at the hype engendered by the music press on anyone who might shift clothes in Topman, see the line:


And hooks are for wimps, and choruses for gays.
So give me my hook, they call out to the stage.
You’re running like a preacher’s hand caressing, feeling up, all the cleavage in town.

Oh, give me my hook.
I know it might sound lame.
Do you like my new look,
Waistcoats are so today.
So give me something special darling
So I can skip around, and flip around, and call it by a name.

Its something global something real, something music kids might steal,
Something different something wow, something trendy at the mo,
Something retro something cool, look for all the boys to drool,
Give me my hook, give me my hook.

Magazines are so over-rated yeah
And then try to tell you, try to to sell you,
What’s new and what’s now obsolete,
And they like their garage friends and yeah, they like those indie gems and yeah,
They like what ever cool new trends gonna take those copies off the shelf so.

I realise that’s a large amount of lyrics, but they summed up pretty much the point of this blog in 3 shorts stanzas, should possibly call it a day.

But then again, if i did i wouldn’t be able to tell you about the ludicrously catchy ‘Lend Me Your Face’, or the Los Campesinos-meets-We Start Fires stomp of ‘Do You Karate?’. I wouldn’t be able to mention the wistful groove of ‘Lumpy Dough’, nor would i be able to inform you of the exquisitely titled ‘I’m Beginning To Think You Prefer Beverley Hills 90210 To Me’, or of it’s exuberant delivery, electro-shimmer, nursery rhyme quoting and shouty chorus of ‘Suplex, Suplex, Backbreaker!‘. Anyone that references wrestling moves in a chorus is bound to get my attention, and since returning i’ve had their album pretty much on repeat.

Its hard not to be swept off your feet by Frank Turner

It's hard not to be swept off your feet by Frank turner

I left Frank Turner until last for a reason; because he was by far the best act i saw all weekend, if i was to make a table of the top bands i saw it would look something like this:

1. Frank Turner
2. Fresh Air
3. Fight Like Apes!

Such was my admiration for his performance. Before i begin this adoring little review i’d like to make it clear that i was a huge fan of his previous band Million Dead so that probably helps, i’ve also had the luck to chat to him on a couple of occasions and a nicer bloke you couldn’t ask to meet, so that probably helps too. However this weekend nobody could beat him for sheer joy, interaction and fists in the air singalong; not bad for just a man and a guitar. In fact his set didn’t even begin with a guitar, the first 5 minutes were beleaguered by technical problems, this was slightly offset by Frank performing an A-Capella version of a Chris TT track, what it was i’m not sure, but i’m pretty certain it was the only time this weekend people were bouncing to a guy speaking. Guitar finally fixed we were treated to a runthrough of what can only be described as punk-folk (which sounds like the greatest thing ever, lets be fair), every member of the crowd screaming back the words to an obviously overjoyed Turner. His honesty, simplicity and turn of phrase conjoured the image of Billy Bragg in my mind, only there’s none of the bitterness or unfocused anger i’ve associated with the former’s music for so long, he manages to make every song uplifting, every song makes you crack a smile, it is as he put it so eloquently ‘Campfire Punkrock’.

Lyrically Turner flits between the sadness and longing in ‘Long Live The Queen’ (about the last moments with a dying friend) to hungover revelations in ‘The Real Damage’, and he accomplished it all with the wit, charm and vigour of a songwriter twice his age. His lyrics occasionally border on the asinine, which is perhaps not the greatest word, better would perhaps be i dunno, optimistic? Optimistic to the point where it makes you cringe, but you can’t help but get caught up in the delivery and the sheer brashness of it all, the King Blues would do well to pay attention to how to get ideals across in a non-preachy way. The standout track for me was without doubt ‘Try This At Home’, a up-tempo ballad urging people to get out and write their own songs, perfectly summed up by the line:

There’s no such thing as rockstars, there’s just people who play music
and some of them are just like us, and some of them are dicks

I realise i am gushing over this performance but i’ve rarely been to a gig where everyone has been so united, nor where so many people have paid attention to the lyrics in quite the same way. I’d urge you to go and see him, i defy you not to leave grinning like a cheshire cat. 2500 words is far too much to commit to one train of thought, but there y’go my thoughts on Kendal Calling 2009 in one go.

Soft Skeleton

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August 10, 2009 Posted by | Music | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Record Box #1

In my never ending pursuit of not having to finish writing up my Kendal Calling experience i have managed to dig yet another new feature up from the murky depths of my brain, here i intend to review any records/7″ singles i randomly stumble upon in charity shops or record stores, just a brief hundred or so words to keep you ticking over until i can actually be fucked with something worthwhile. So, here we go…

Fleetwood Mac – Greatest Hits 1968-1971

Now, i’m going to make it clear before we begin this brief review, i love Fleetwood Mac, you could see that coming right, no point reviewing stuff i hate otherwise this would be about every Oasis album ever created. Now most will know the Mac from albums such as the classic Rumours or the Formula 1 coverage theme tune, this isn’t from that band, it’s from the group who were part of the ‘blues boom’ in the late 60’s, and the group who wrote ‘Black Magic Woman’ later to be made a mega-hit by mexican-virtuoso type Carlos Santana. Many of the songs are written by founder member and blues legend Peter Green, barring two (written by Elmore James and Little Willie John, what more do you need to know about how good those two tracks are?) and each track is killer blues instrumental or a more traditional 60’s pop-style. It’s a period of Fleetwood Mac that’s vastly under-rated and largely forgotten about, but this collection is a great introduction to their blues roots and considering it’s currently out of print you’ll be owning just a little piece of history.

August 8, 2009 Posted by | Record Box | , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Killin’ Nazis’ – Tarantino Style

There is little attention paid to film posters these days. Those rectangular signs that excite and enthrall us before we’ve seen a single clip of action. It doesn’t take long to recall the classics – coincidentally, great film posters tend to accompany great films – like ‘Jaws’ and ‘Apocalypse Now.’ They manage to convey the very essence of the film in one fell swoop and I put it to you that the above, one of the posters for Tarantino’s newest release, ‘Inglourious Basterds,’ is in similar, if not the same company as the Spielberg and Coppola classics.

But this isn’t about film posters, this is about a film I’ve been waiting my whole life for, without even knowing it. This is about my sheer spastic excitement for a new Tarantino picture. This is going to be near-enough to one-thousand words of  unadulterated, fawning praise for one of the few iconic film directors left out there. So suck it up, and, if necessary, hand the sick bags out but I’m not going to make a single apology.

I don’t recall if I saw ‘Reservoir Dogs’ or ‘Pulp Fiction’ first, but whichever one it was, had me hooked from the opening lines. The story was told with a fresh voice that had been broken by a life of movie-watching, the plot, revealed with original technique and undoubted mastery. It was a Donnie Brasco moment, as sure as any Donnie Brasco moment that has, or ever will occur. His assembled casts from those first two pictures lends credence to the argument that he got a reputation, quickly.

From there to here, Tarantino has spanned the genres that many of us had simply forgotten about. ‘Kill Bill’ brought The Bride to our screens in a quest for bloody vengenace. Stuntman Mike terrified the women of Nowheresville, USA, in ‘Death Proof’, the Grindhouse homage that just slightly missed the mark (thank you Messrs Weinstein.) Using his silver tongue born of a thousand cool predecessors and his unique golden touch, Tarantino now stands behind his latest project which will soon hit the UK’s shores and fortify itself, surely, as one of my favourites.

I can’t pinpoint why my hopes are so high for this film. It’s new Tarantino, so obviously, it’s something to be excited about. But things run deeper than that. Wary of the subject matter, and of his scope for violence and dark, prose-like dialogue, it’s entirely possible that I’m giddy at the prospect of pure overkill, like Augustus Gloop who is granted entry to Willy Wonker’s factory. Don’t make me link it, you all must have seen it.

He has dragged legendary performances out of Kurt Russell, Robert Forster and Harvey Keitel, and that’s without mentioning the body of work which Samual L. Jackson has contributed so adroitly to Tarantino’s movies. Now, armed with an eclectic cast ranging from all-around egalitarian and star of ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’s Bastardisation’ Brad Pitt, to Mike ‘Lemon Sherbert’ Myers. My mind, free of doubt, is prepared for ‘Inglourious Basterds’ to be the best movie ever.

I have heard many reviews and many opinions, some of which I refuse to believe simply out of grounds of loyalty, and some of which have only baited my keen, calendar-watching eyes. I have seen snippets here and there that have appropriately whetted my appetite like any good film advertisement should. So it seems that I’m destined to sit in the velvet splendour of some run-down cinema with a tub of popcorn that dwarfs my head, a drink with eighteen times the volume my bladder can safely take and follow, wide-eyed,  the Diane Kruger goodness, Eli Roth’s (barely) acceptable acting and all the moustache-action there is to be had.

Certificated 18, I can rest assured that no youths who will attack me with bleach. What I don’t get is, why were a group of youths, willing to injure a woman in such a horrifying way, were sat watching Harry Potter of all films!

Inglourious Basterds is released on the 19th of August and has a provisional Four Stars from me. Stay tuned for the post in which I, in all liklihood, give it its Fifth Star.

August 6, 2009 Posted by | Film, Misc | , , , | Leave a comment

The Review: A Place To Bury Strangers – Exploding Head

Big Muff. Those are the first words that come to mind when i think of NYC’s A Place To Bury Strangers. No i’m not being rude i am of course referring to the guitar pedal, and by the sounds of things a bass and drum pedal aswell. Much hyped during 2007’s noise rock revival i have always been fond of, if not wildly impressed by their self titled debut album, it came to me across to me as a band with a goal but very different ideas of executing it, almost a collection of My Bloody Valentine B-sides; this has changed however.

Today i was supposed to be posting a review of a festival i had recently visited yet this album has blown me away more than anything i’ve listened to this past year, all drone-rock noisescapes, Psychocandy-esque melodies and pounding rhythm section it could scarcely have been better designed to distract me from what i should otherwise have been doing. ‘It Is Nothing’ is a signal of intent from the off, sounding like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club if they’d shredded a few strings and found themselves a decent drummer, i LOVE it and it’s one of the weaker tracks on the album. Follow up track ‘In Your Heart’ comes across as New Order if Peter Hook had spent less time bitching about stuff and encouraged his bandmates to write something good for the first time since Joy Division, and ‘Ego Death’ is potentially the best track i have heard this year building slowly to an ear-shredding crescendo; with a riff that’s equal parts Jesus and Mary Chain’s ‘Blues From A Gun’ and Marilyn Mansons ‘Fight Song’, it’s a 6 minute opus that nearly ripped my fucking face off.

I could happily sit and wax lyrical about every track on this album, other highlights include ‘I Lived My Life In The Shadow Of Your Heart’ and the Teardrop Explodes-meets-a-road-gritter epic ‘Exploding Head’, but i fear i’ve gushed enough over it. For those of you not interested in the noisier side of post-punk i’d imagine it could potentially get quite samey, but i’ve not found this to be a problem for my own tastes. I can’t recommend it enough, it’s far and away the best album i have heard this year, and probably my favourite new release since The Walkmen’s ‘You & Me’ from late last year. My copy is on pre-order, just go out and buy it on October 6th, i promise you won’t be disappointed.

A+

August 6, 2009 Posted by | Music, The Review | , , , | Leave a comment

Fake Plastic Books #3

Satire has always been a part of my life, my dad has had a subscription to Private Eye and shows like Spitting Image/Not The 9 O Clock News were regular viewing when i was growing up, so it seems slightly bizarre that barring the odd youtube comedy sketch this is my first foray into true satire of that strange strange word of US Politics.

For those of you who don’t know Rush Limbaugh is a conservative commentator on his own nationally syndicated radio show, i must confess to only knowing snippets of information about him until i read this book, and even then only his more controversial moves (a few of which are summed up quite succinctly at that bastion of knowledge wikipedia). Now, being a well-meaning vaguely liberal type i went into this book expecting to not only agree with the majority Franken’s motives and opinions but to laugh at them aswell, and frankly i wasn’t disappointed. It covers much of the Clinton years and the aftermath/elections to come after him in typically American ways, i’m not entirely sure how to explain why i think this, only that the humour does seem to me to be very American, somewhat over the top at times, punctuated by cartoons and large doses of hyperbole. Chapter titles such as ‘Phil Gramm: Everyone’s Favourite Bastard’ and ‘Bob Dole’s Nightmare Of Depravity’ should give you a pretty good idea of what you’re in for.

It’s a pretty excellent introduction to American political satire, something which i am by no means an expert on (except Barack! Yes We Can! *ahem*) but any comedian who can go on to hold major political office (Franken is currently Senator for Minnesota) on the back of a career on Saturday Night Live and a book constantly sending up the political system is alright in my book.

August 5, 2009 Posted by | Books, Fake Plastic Books | Leave a comment