Carry a six-pack with you at all times.
Interesting arts related story on the rediscovery of a potential studio of the renaissance visionary Leonardo Da Vinci: [DEAD LINK] Workshop Discovered in Italy.
Well, I started this before the New Year (you remember that?) and only just got it finished this weekend. In the best tradition of laziness, I'm copy and pasting the same introductory text as last year's review - reading it now it says it all perfectly and I don't feel like re-writing it.
"In the best tradition of the end of year awards that you are now sick of, I give you my top ten musical albums of the last year (not in order of preference as that's impossible.) Straight away I can see you peering down and saying, "That didn't come out this year, or that's ancient, has Dio lost it?" Well, personally I've never cared about when a record came out, I've never listened to artists in chronological order and take and pick albums as they become available through whatever means.
It's the albums that have turned me on and defined where my head has been in the last year, whenever they were released. There are a few rediscoveries in there as well as new music as I've spent a fair few bob in the last year replacing all my old cassettes and scratchy vinyl with nice shiny CDs from Ebay and car boot sales."
They are not in order of preference, but I can place where I (and my musical year) began thanks to a few good early purchases in 2004. And that is where I start. Like last year, its with another classy and classic Constellation Records release. It won't be the first with a Constellation link either.
Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band - Born Into Trouble As the Sparks Fly Upward
This is the second review of this album to make it onto the blog in the space of a year. When I wrote about it the first time, I knew I'd be writing about it now. Lavish, brave and cinematic, the album sweeps through some of the most incredible rock orchestrations of recent memory. Post Rock is maybe a pretentious but apt label.
The best Constellation releases have an apocalyptic finality to them. This album is there, and its one I want playing as my life ebbs away - its that good. The last track, The Triumph Of Our Tired Eyes has been a good companion through many a drunken night of melancholy this past year, and no doubt will remain a constant companion for the foreseeable future.
Interpol - Antics
They did it again. At first this album is disappointing, but then it builds and builds in your psyche until all initial disappointments have been dispelled and replaced by love. They have a great formula and hammer it with a passion. If I had one complaint about this album, it would be that there is a real one tempo similarity to it.
That said, its a great similarity and the tempo they've chosen is near perfect. For me, Not Even Jail is the standout track on the album - the number of times I've found myself air-bass-slabbing and singing the lyrics to this track is immeasurable.
Its fair to say there is nothing particularly ground-breaking or original about the band's sound and songs. However, there is a throbbing soul and irresistible drive that makes them equal parts dour and joyful and downright singable to the end.
Kitchens Of Distinction - Strange Free World
I first got this album when it first came out - and for the best part of 13 years it's been the disappointing second album. Finally got a CD of it in the last year and fuck me was I wrong. I suspect the problem was me not being grown up enough to appreciate the adult lyrics and song structures.
The Kitchens remain one of my favourite bands of my youthful years - the dreamy and layered shoe-gazer guitars and the hard edged pop song structures remain a winning formula. This album spent a lot of time in exile for me - catching it now, its an exhilarating and chimingly beautiful old friend that I used to ignore but now have caught up with my life enough to finally appreciate and really enjoy.
Jamie Says - Soul Gumshoe
This year saw Jamie Says release their debut official release in the form of the 7" single Down To The Debauchery, Kyle, the Jamie main man sent me out a copy of their second demo LP - Soul Gumshoe. A tad less lo fi than the previous demo album The Silver Screen And The Stanley Blade, its none-the-less infectious and downright life-affirming. Incredible guitar riffs, honest and heart felt vocals and sharp indie-pop song writing. Its music like this that makes me want to pull a moonie to HMV and iTunes and their soulless clinically over-priced product.
Southern Death Cult - Southern Death Cult
Bizarrely I've had a copy of this album for almost two decades. Not so much an album as a compilation of 12"s, demos and live recordings. It languished on a tape I bought cheap in the HMV sale as it didn't have a cover. It got listen to occasionally - but never really sunk in.
Proving that old music is always worth a revisit, a recent download of the album has left it one of the most played in recent months. Catchy guitar hooks, some great lyrics and solid songs. A real sleeper hit - the expanded CD added a few tracks which no doubt would have got me hooked on this album a good decade or two ago had they been there on that tape I bought then. He's the singer of the Doors now, go figure...
Polmo Polpo - Like Hearts Swelling
Another fine Constellation release - I took a chance, threw some dollars into an envelope and sent it Trans-Atlantic post to Canada. A few weeks later a nice thank you note and this album turned up in my mailbox and has been enjoying a regular playing ever since.
Hard to explain, this is pop music without words and many recognisable instruments other than some reverb drenched slide guitar. Imagine Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music toned down to the softest of throbs, coated in semi-conscious dream colours and spun out to epic length - and you have a vague insight into Polmo Polpo. Throbbing, buzzing, soft and happy - five lavishly layered pieces of electronic bliss - music to zone-out too.
Funkadelic - Maggot Brain
Funkadelic have always been on my 'to get stuff by' radar for a good few year. I'd been treated to a few tracks on mix tapes I've been given, but this was my first engagement with a whole album. Its a bit of a schizophrenic album, from the opening title track opus and master class in psychedelic guitar doodling to the stomping funk of tracks like Hit It And Quit It, the album delights and grabs at every turn with its choral singing, warp drive solos and kicking guitar riffing. Top stuff.
Mclusky - The Difference Between Me And You Is That I'm Not On Fire
Sadly now split, my local heroes released their far superior to the much loved but far too poppy second album, with little fanfare and once again were unjustly ignored. A searing return to form, class songwriting and class thrashing guitars. Probably their first coherent album and a fitting epitaph to some bright stars that burned twice as hot for half as long as they should have. I feel like I'm repeating myself here - here's what I wrote when this came out. Farewell brave guitar manglers - it was much fun.
Set Fire To Flames - Sings Reign Rebuilder
Another Constellation themed entry, although not a label release, its populates with many of the label's regulars. 74 minutes of field recordings, scraping metal, beautiful strings and a quietly sharp sadness and longing. Mesmerising vocal samples talk of hell fire and persecution to a back drop of wilderness evoking instrumentation and compositions. Just lovely, if a little tricky to initially love, further listenings are rewarding in the extreme. A real slow burner this one.
Valley of the Giants - Valley of the Giants
And again, more Canadian post-rock. Featuring members of all my favourite aforementioned Canadian/Constellation bands, this is a strangely disjointed but fully engaging LP that sees some real pop moments alongside the apocalyptic frenzy of its' noise driven instrumentals. Part folksy, part pop-whimsy and part frontier wilderness strings - each track surprises and rewards. Favourites include the beautifully strung Westworld and its luscious female pop singing, set against chiming guitars and rolling strings which evoke Arctic snowfields; and Whaling Tale, with a long rickety spoken piece by an aging whaler about saving a penguin form killer whales. The instrumental pieces at times call to mind Spanish villas and Velvet's fuelled feedback. A truly grand album to end the year on.
Packaging, I hate the stuff, but its so unavoidable. For the second time in recent months, my favourite PC parts supplier eBuyer has made me swear at the sheer ineptitude of their packaging. It’s a bit of a joke. Look, a pack of printer paper and two printer cartridges in a box the size of a small bath - none of which particularly delicate - but as the other 99% of the box's volume was padded out with air pockets, you wouldn't have guessed that.
Now, I finally decided to treat myself to a mp3 player (for doing the housework with). So that was part of the same order. Guess how that highly delicate piece of equipment arrived? It arrived in a single layer large thin board envelope. Just as well the actual box was pretty solid.
And before anyone asks, no it wasn't one of those ghastly iPod Shuffles. This one actually plays your albums in order. I'm looking forward to the iBook - it reads back the chapters of your favourite books in random order. That no doubt will be closely followed by the iDVD - you guessed it, it takes your favourite films and plays the chapters back in random order. Great selling point.
But I digress - this packaging is wholly inept, not to mention downright wasteful in an environmental sense. It can't be cheap for the company either. The value of the contents in the over-done box was about £8 - the barely protected mp3 player was a fair bit more - obviously they'd rather replace the more expensive item. Really, I should be writing to them - if I get a chance I will.
Just a couple of snaps, not sure but it looks like they may pull down the Queens Garage on Westgate St. Lots of building work going on there, the roofs been pulled down. Despite the poor ground floor façade, the top half looks nice in the sun with its streamlined arts deco freeze. Found myself there the other morning returning from the dentists so snapped a couple just for memories sake.
No doubt another of Cardiff's buildings with a little bit of character will be replaced with another faceless non-event.
It could just save your life.
I can think of similar stickers that should be added to a number of religious works. Suddenly this blog feels like atheist's corner. But I love how the people who put the stickers on argue they will encourage 'free thinking', suppose they have a point, which really means the stickers should be on every text book - or better still, none at all.
Evolution Text Book Stickers
But I couldn't help laugh and nod sagely at this latest piece of Apple hardware. Apple iProduct.
Here's a collection to drool over. It will be interesting to see how much it finishes on, but its far more than I could muster. [DEAD AUCTION] Sub Pop Singles Club Auction
Watch the long anticipated clash between Tongue and Berg in achingly slow-motion.
An event so large that the best seat in the house is in space
To make one's computing life a lot easier. After years of being fed up at the lack of a hotkey to create a new folder, I stumbled on this tiny programme called bxNewFolder and now I can just press F12 for a new folder to be created - I'm already wondering how I managed without it all this time.
Trite, maybe. Godsend? You bet.
Because its an affront to my intelligence as well as the fact I hate musicals with a passion. In fact I hate musicals almost as much as I hate the hypocritical religious / decency types rallying the troops to launch one of the biggest complaint floods in BBC History for screening it. The best part is that - they haven't even watched it yet... [nuff said]
These misguided moralists have been the bane of my life for decades, and have caused me no end of throbbing temple veins at the sheer frothing at the mouth and rabid desire to uphold some prurient need to screen everyone from the stuff that upsets their repressed and diseased outlook on life.
If it offends you, look away, change the channel or just don't switch the TV on. It harms no one.
However, urging people to complain in a flood of emails at a time when many people are still using BBC sites to trace loved ones caught in the Tsunami Disaster seems both heartless, distasteful and potentially dangerous. It says it all really.
This made me smile, do a Google image search for Rude Gesture and Elis in the womb comes up in fourth place... Rude Gesture.
The poor boy is ruined already.
I've never mentioned the excellent service at Blog Lines Com, it's a web based news aggregator. Basically, all those swanky buttons and links you see on websites for RSS/Atom.xml/Site Feed etc can be gathered into one place to allow you to read it together. From blogs to newsfeeds to forum posts. Its a great way of keeping abreast of stuff.
They offer a basic blog thing as well - which I'm using to collect some of the stuff I see reading the feeds at Bloglines, but are too lazy to post in here. You can see this info/link only Blog here: Clashing Clip Clips
And if you already use a feed reader and missed the link on the left, the feed for this site is here: Dirty Dio Bach's RSS Feed. And the feed for the clips blog is here: Clip Clips RSS Feed - the links in the left nav are the sites I have feeds from in Bloglines. Endless thanks to Baddly Dubbed Boy for enlightening me in the ways of RSS.
Not often one to even think about celebrity pond scum, let alone post about them, this one is just priceless. Sent to me by a work colleague and reported in BBC News (like its news) - celebrity thickos the Beckhams had a Christening. Read the whole thing but pay particular attention to the very last sentence. Beckham's Glitzy Christening. It says it all really.
Given current world events, its seems churlish to dwell on my woes. Basically the old holiday curse has struck again and Elis has been ill and we've been up to our eyes and trying to catch up. Nothing serious, but its been the usual teething related cold/cough keeping us up at night. Sorry to peeps for not being more in contact and stuff, what with this and being transfixed watching the dreadful images from the Tusnami disaster, I've been neglectful of me duties. Me bad.
Anyway, after a dreadful week we were able to get out on Thursday to Castell Coch with Elis. The first two shots show him looking pissed off in grand surroundings whilst trying to cool his gums on the nearest piece of antique furniture. The rest show some shots of the lavish 19th century fantasy interiors and exteriors. Crap light and nothing much to shout about but featured here for the interest.
Then yesterday we managed an hour or two out at St Fagans, giving Elis a run out on his trike. Light was all gone but I took some shots of the reflections which are nice but obvious and little else of value.
Oh yes, Happy New Year as well. Feels real grim at the moment. 2004 wasn't memorable - 2005 already looks like a bitch. Thank goodness for small comforts.