Friday, January 27, 2006

Goodnight Grandaddy

Grandaddy, those guys with the biggest beards in indie/space-folk have decided call it a day. Their new album, Just like the Fambly Cat will be their last. The band has no plans to take it on the road either.

The first track from the Sophtware Slump, he's simple, he's dumb, he's the pilot is one of those defining songs in my musical progression. I think it signaled my departure from mainstream music. As I heard those swirling guitars I was hooked. From then I endeavoured to unearth more of this creative, conceptual force.

Bearded frontman Jason Lytle says that it has been an 'erosion' of sorts, and now everyone is free to pursue their own project. But Jason has not given up on music, 'I don't intend on ever stopping. I've actually tried to stop a bunch of times, but it's not really possible'.

Just like the Fambly Cat is due on V2 on May 9.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Another interesting read

Like buses, two interesting articles arrive in one day? This one was actually written a while ago but still deserves a read. It challenges the conventional European and Western norm that as society progresses we'll realise that we're too clever and rich to believe in God. The mindset that thinks if only those chaps in the middle east had a bit more money they'd worship the stock market instead of a fundamentalist ideology.

The Atlantic Online has a very intersting article by David Brooks. He argues that the world isn't so secular as north america and western europe usually think.

Like a lot of people these days, I'm a recovering secularist. Until September 11 I accepted the notion that as the world becomes richer and better educated, it becomes less religious. Extrapolating from a tiny and unrepresentative sample of humanity (in Western Europe and parts of North America), this theory holds that as history moves forward, science displaces dogma and reason replaces unthinking obedience. A region that has not yet had a reformation and an enlightenment, such as the Arab world, sooner or later will.

Read On

A short history of Google, or don't be evil (except if there's a lot of money involved)

The Guardian has posted an essay from the London Review of Books online on the most successful spelling mistake on the stoc market: Google.

Nine years ago, two geeky grad students founded a company with the motto: 'Don't be evil.' Google is now the fastest growing company in the history of the world, so rich and powerful that it terrifies retailers, publishers and media firms alike. This week it launched in China, happy to comply with the government's censorship demands. Should we be worried?

Read On

Monday, January 23, 2006

Ben Christophers - Viewfinder review


Rocketeer RRCDL001

This limited edition, internet-only record from Wolverhampton's finest is described as 'a demo really'. In concept perhaps- Ben set a microphone up to "record what came out" - but in terms of production and quality it stands alone as a record.

It features fifteen fairly short songs ranging in accessibility and style, but thematically focusing on burning suns, darkest days, heartache and tragedy. At times he could do with lightening up, but then melancholy worked for Jeff Buckely, who Christophers is often compared to on account of his guitar sounds and wide ranging voice.

Viewfinder is a little more left field than its three predecessors. It's a bit more electronic, but still with the baroque-pop instrumentation of pedal organs and keyboards. Influences vary from Radiohead to Devandra Banhart to post-rock artists. As a collection of demos it sometimes works and sometimes meanders. It is a worthy project, and as a concept album deserves recognition. It's certainly a lot more interesting than most popular bands around, but perhaps not to everyone's taste.

What's your IQ?

Seem's like everyone is a visionary philosopher these days. Find out if you are one too. Take the test here.

Friday, January 20, 2006

going out with Plato

I like to think that my girlfriend is my intellectual equal. Unfortuately any hope of that has just gone out the window. I should have seen the signs a while ago, she has a triple first from Cambridge University, and prompted by me has just taken an IQ test.

Apparently she's a visionary philosopher.

Her test results say, and I quote

"Your mind's strengths allow you to think ahead of the game -- to imagine or anticipate what should come next in just about any situation. Because you're equally skilled in the numerical and verbal universes of the brain, you can draw from multiple sources of information to come up with great ideas. The timelessness of your vision and the balance between your various skills are what make you a Visionary Philosopher.

In addition to your strengths in maths and linguistics, you have a knack for matching and anticipating patterns. These skills and your uncanny ability to detect the underlying blueprint of most of life's situations add to your visionary philosopher mind. Two philosophers who share the same combination of skills you possess are Plato and Benedict Spinoza

I think I'll try to steer the conversation away from metaphysics and towards music from now on.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

My favourite sweater

You have to respect a man who can do a world tour in the same jumper. You have to respect him even more if he is the President elect of Bolivia.

Last week the President caused a stir as he forgot to pack his suit for his diplomatic global jaunt, favouring his comfy, striped sweater and open neck shirt instead.

Here he is, the leader more casual than Dave Cameron.

And again

And again, this time in Spain

In China,

South Africa

And at last, a wardrobe change for Cuba.

What a guy!

Dawn Smithson - Safer Here review


The Presidents of the U.S.A. sing on their self titled album, "We're not going to make it, 'cause there's a million better bands with singers who can sing..." They were onto something. Perhaps I'm a traditionalist but I like a singer who can sing and a song with a bit of a melody. This 'rural space folk' album has neither. Dawn Smithson on her first solo album in six years meanders over acoustic guitar looking for the right note to hit. Her vocals are distinctive but difficult to listen to.

Musically, the accompaniment is mostly simple finger-picked acoustic or electric guitar. There are no drums and little variation. The non-conventional song structure abandons the need for hooks or choruses, focusing on a continuing drone. The accompanying press release describes the album as experimental, rhythmic non ornate songs. Some experiments succeed, some fail. This one could do with going back to the drawing board.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Brokeback mountain

Brokeback mountain, for those not in the know is gay love western story "embued with heartbreaking universality, helped by the moving performances of Ledger and Gyllenhaal". Beside the photo-copier the other day in the office I asked a rather conservative, film-buff colleague of mine if he seen the film? He replied

'No I haven't. Not really my sort of thing you see'.

Another colleague, attempting to join in our conversation said,

"What film is this? Is it that gay western? What's it called again, Bare-back mountain?"

And he was completely serious.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

happy new year

It's belated, it's late but happy new year. About the music hasn't been updated for a bit and I apologise. Heather and I had a weeks holiday but we're back to routine. Anyway, as we were seeing in the New Year my mind turned to a particuarly appropriate tune by my good friend and independent wee man, Paul Campbell and The Smiles.

Click here to download the song, happy new year! (Unzip to listen)

A muzzle of bees

Way back in June, when I was in the back of a car crawling through north Dublin traffic to get to Croke Park to see U2 we heard an amusing piece on the radio. It was an interview with an Irish bee keeper. He wanted to break the world record for the most number of bees the body at one time. The current record is held by an American who managed 87.5lb (40kg), or 350,000 bees on his body.

The Irishman was growing a beard in which to place a queen bee, in the hope that it would attract 350,001 other bees. He was embarking on this incredible stunt for charity, but he must have got quite a kick from it.

When asked if he was worried about getting stung he said 'ah no, sure one sting is just as bad as the other'. As it happens I stumbled across a photograph of the record attempt the other day. It turns out that he had to stop at 200,000 bees because of numb feet. No bee stung him during the record attempt, but once he jumped off the scales, seven bees became a little over excited and released their venom.

Enjoy the photos, the sheer madness of it enlightened our traffic jam experience.