April amusements

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Batman Vs Superman

Well, I thought it was better than a lot of people have made out. I mean, it’s complete rubbish. But, the fact there’s less jokes than the execrable Age of Ultron is no reason to think it any worse.

Looking forward to them let Batfleck do a film alone.

Vodun – The Lexington (7 April 2016)

Vodun are pretty much your oh-so-millennial set up of drummer and bluesy metal guitar. What makes them interesting is the fact they are a three piece. Fronted by a proper black soul diva, instead of some reedy Plant-a-like.

Emblazoned in day-glo body paint, the can at times make a seriously impressive racket. Of course, at times, it descends to lumpen metal tropes. But the other bits are enough to outweigh those.

This is the debut album launch show. I’m genuinely excited to watch this band grow and mature. Unless someone throws money at them

Darren Hayman/Ralegh Long/Deerful – Shackewell Arms (8 April 2016)

Deerful have/has been pleasing me greatly with her laptempi pop ditties of late. TBH it’s the presence on this bill that’s had me venture out when I could really have done with not bothering.

Despite public transport conspiring to make me miss half the set, it doesn’t disappoint.

I’ve seen Ralegh Long perform a song once before. He struck me as the worst tedious type of singersongwriter. But hey, it was one song. I’ll give him a second chance.

He didn’t deserve it.

Hayman was Hayman. Which sounds maybe more dismissive than it should. I always enjoy his gigs. As should anyone. I think maybe I need to have a breather before the next.

Midnight Special

There’s a lot to like about Jeff Nichols‘ new movie. There’s also a lot to kinda ponder “did they really do that?” “why was all that in the trailer?” “was it any good?” about

I think it was. In fact I’m sure it was. Yes, it was…

The Heads – The Lexington (14 April 2016)

Somewhere about the Headlong Dive record, they cut back on the tedious hippy workout wank. I much preferred the droning driving thunderous garage band version. So, I’m always a little wary that they’ll revert to type. Go “back to their roots” or somesuch other twaddle. The support (whose name escapes me) was one of the guitarists and the roady with an electric bow fiddle improvising for a chunk of time. It’s interminably awful. And fills me with dread for the main attraction.

No need for such fears. They brought the chundering grooving RAWK!! In full throttle, they are something wondrous to behold. I wish they’d get out and do this more often. (Because, christ knows when anyone’ll next be warming up for an ATP event.)

The Jungle Book

Well, who would have thought it? This is really blummin’ good.

The Man Who Knew Infinity

In this country we can fart out top-quality true-story period-drama. So why is this so bad? A waste of the talents of all involved.

Future of the Left – Electric Ballroom (21 April 2016)

You’ll still get blank looks from people that claim to love McLusky at mention of FotL. Which is there loss, but also a shame. Over the past decade this band have become one of the most interesting and challenging rock groups out there. They also completely kick-ass. So, all you retro johnny-come-lately types, get on board with this lot before they’re gone too and you start claiming to have always loved them.

Helen Love – The Lexington (24 April 2016)

Does you heart go boom? Yes, yes, and again yes.

Eye In The Sky

At it’s heart, Eye In The Sky, really rather distastefully manipulates it’s viewers’ perception. Is it really necessary to make the muslim girl at the heart of the movie’s moral dilemma the child of a liberal family that encourage her learning and playing? Does this make here more of one of the good-ones that we should care about more than one dragged up in drudgery and oppression? Just how cynical can you be about your audience?

Of course, I’m assuming that audience is the same one that when you tested the movie insisted on the pointlessly tagged on denouement?

All of which is a shame, because the rest of it’s rather good. It just seems to have hedged it’s bets enough to not be the dark, dark satire that’s really at it’s heart. Which is a shame, because we would’ve been looking at a new Strangelove.

Louder Than Bombs

Mumblecore done right. With Gabriel Byrne and a title nicked off The Smiths. What more could you want? OK, laughs. Adventure. Derring-do….

Criminal

Woefully bad brain-swap (is that a genre) movie. Worth noting for Kevin Costner and Tommy Lee Jones hanging out in my local pharmacy.

Fan

Is this Bollywood? It’s jolly entertaining and the second film I see tonight to feature The Rake.

Written by Tony Kiernan

01 May 2016 at 9:08 am

Posted in 2016, Film, Gigs, London, Music

March

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Violent Femmes – We Can Do Anything

New album. Played this to death

*happy dance*

Is it one of their greats? No. Is it better than yours? Fuck, yeah!

Hail, Ceasar!

AND new Coens!!!!!!!. I expect to not awake in the morning.

It’s like they came up with the device of being able to do all the scenes they ever dreamt of but couldn’t find a place for by throwing them into a great bug hollywood dressing up box and film-within-a-film premise. It’s all over the shop. But, ultimately such a joyous celebration of a golden age of movies. Still grinning.

The Others Below

No-budget brit c-movie. Manages to be quite creepy and darkly funny. Althought I wouldn’t put money on the latter being deliberate.

10 Cloverfield Lane

Some-budget US b-movie. Who doesn’t like John Goodman at his most sinisterly avuncular best? An object lesson in economic story telling and vision. Great fun.

High-rise

*sigh*
So disappointing. Looks amazing. Fantastic performances. And, it tries.

Suspect when it was called unfilmable, they should’ve listened. Seems really long, yet really rushed. Maybe a six part series would’ve worked better.

Shame

Anomelisa

I think I liked this. Despite it’s best efforts to the contrary

Pere Ubu – The Dome (24 March 2016)

Contrary to expectation, a rather mirthful gig. If a little long.

Momus – Cafe Oto (25 March 2016)

Right up with expectation, an enormously mirthful gig. With those moments. Always essential.

Disorder

Ennui.
Ennui.
*crash bang*
Ennui.
*stabby killy*
Fin. WTF?

Yes, it is French

Written by Tony Kiernan

01 April 2016 at 2:18 pm

Posted in 2016, Film, Gigs, London, Music, Records

February fings

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They Might Be Giants – Electric Ballroom (8 February 2016)

Epic career-spanning set, performed with their usual vigour, humour and charm.

Bridget Christie/Sara Pascoe – The Amersham Arms (8 February 2016)

I’ve never seen Pascoe live. Having heard her interviewed at length, I always been a little underwhelmed by the panel show appearances. But, then, they shouldn’t be used as a measure of anything. Her live show is wicked smart and deftly charming. She goes on the catch-a-full-show list.

I have a lot of thoughts about the current attitude to ‘rape jokes’. And, sensibly, I keep most of these to myself. Thankfully Christie seems to have decided that he new material is going to take it on head first. It’s everything you want; hilarious, thought-provoking and, at turns, uncomfortable. Really looking forward to where this goes.

Trumbo

Ultimately, a really, really good TV movie. Bryan Cranston is superb. In this, like. Not just in general.

Mighty Mighty – 100 Club (19 February 2016)

More indie-schmindie nostalgia for me. Yet another unsightly bunch of men of an age that should-know-better shambling on stage and raking over material over 30 years old.

Every note of it made me feel 16 again. Like what a good pop tune should.

Terminal Cheesecake – The Lexington (20 February 2016)

Really enjoyed this. Yet, found myself focussing on just how fantastica powerhouse the drummer was. Which is never a good sign.

Spotlight

More Oscar® botherers. Also televisual. Unlike Trumbo, this was a movie aspiring to being an HBO mini-series, not vice versa.

Deadpool

Really wish I’d had the time to write the meditation on Ryan REynolds I wanted to write after seeing Mississippi Grind. Then I could be all smug. Seriously, ask anyone I went to the pub with in the last part of 2015.

Daredevil

Finally got round to watching what I had been told was The Wire of live-actioned Marvel. A bold claim. TBH, one that only Vincent D’Onofrio‘s near-Shakespearean take on a cartoon villain comes anywhere near fulfilling. Which, in itself, made the journey worthwhile.

I realise everyone’s probably finished the second season by now. I’ll get round to it. But, I’m not certain it’ll be able to keep that up without him.

Bat-Bike – Getting Back

Attempt to get to more new music. Random pick from blogs. Turns out they are local to me. This is great. Squinty psychedelics. Garage aesthetic. Gonna catch them live asap.

The Love Triangle – Clever Clever

Random Facebook recommend. Great stuff. The kind of fuzzalong powerpunk pop tunes that sound like they’re a dawdle to throw together. If they were, surely more people would be doing it?

Written by Tony Kiernan

01 March 2016 at 6:33 pm

Some stuff I did in January

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Towards the end of last year I spent or so putting some comments into incomplete blog postings. I evidently don’t have either the time or the inclination to keep this up. Which is annoying as it exists to keep my hand in with written communication. Or articulating the mess that goes on in this mind. Lets say it’s time. I’m definitely spending less time in the office doing this. So, let’s a different format. See if I can keep my hand in.

The Hateful Eight

New year’s day. Denver, Colorado. We can’t get in to the full 70mm roadshow, so we’re seeing this in council format.

There’s a ludicrously extended talky bit at the start of this where not only does Tarantino‘s supposed snappy dialogue is nowhere to be seen. There is a streak of misogyny that I’m not cool with, though.

Then the eight actually get together and it becomes an outrageous slapstick bloodfest. I am going to return to this in the full experience. So, more detail then.

Itchy-O Marching Band – The 3 Kings Tavern (1 January 2016)

Someone finally listened to my bitching and put some other gigs on while I was in Colorado.

There was a support band. I can’t remember their name. They weren’t bad.

How to describe Ithcy-O? The mariachi band who soundtrack Tim Hunkin‘s gorgonazola fueled night-sweats? Yeah, I think that’ll do it.

It’s part cabaret, part installation. There’s dancers, tesla coils, smoke cannons, lights on everything. But, mostly, there’s the battalion of drummers and musicians. When they get going they are a thumping hypnotic On-U groove. Problem is they spend so long getting going. I understand what an introduction is, and how they can be used. But, if you had a car that took forever to get started every time, you’d scrap it.

The Danish Girl

Tom Hooper‘s latest movie tells the remarkable true story of Danish artist Lili Elbe, a pioneer (that’s not the right word) of sexual re-assignment surgery.

Her’s is a fascinating story.

The cast are marvellous. Alicia Vikander stealing another film. Not to say that Eddie Redmayne is anything other that damn fine, and rather beguiling, in the title role. (And, all films could do with Ben Wishaw popping up. If only so I can shout Pingu! when he does.)

Early 20th Century Copenhagen and Paris are rendered beautifully. Making long to visit both again. (Although, today of course.)

It’s truly fucken woeful, though.

The Revenant

Talking of full of woe…

A lot has been made of the authenticity of this movie. The dedication to filming by natural light. Which is truly stunning at points. Of course, only serving to really emphasise the very obvious cg bits.

Apparently the actors were a bit cold and miserable. Diddums. It’s not as raw or grueling as you’d hope. There’s a point, where Leo‘s in the roots of a tree. Hiding from the French, or the natives, or Tom Hardy, or some wildlife, or fire, or snow, or wind, or an iceberg. Whatever. I looked at the screen and realised this film could’ve had Tom Hanks or Cruise in the main roll and not really have made a bit of a difference. Particularly to my relatively thumbs-up enjoyment of it.

Here’s a hint: Next time you’re looking to lose a bit of flab, or 20 minutes running time (as some people call it), start with the dream sequences.

Soom T – Hoxton Bar & Kitchen (20 January 2016)

I first became aware of MC Soom T providing vocals for the astounding Send Them Kids To War by the otherwise pedestrian Burns Unit. Since then, every now and again I’ve caught mention of her (huge in France, apparently) and been interested. So, free gig. No-brainer.

It’s quite good. I keep thinking about how I’m told she’s huge in France. Which might explain the just-too-slick edge to tonight. I find myself questioning how much of what I’m watching is what I’m hearing. But, it’s filed under “warrants ore investigation”.

Joy

David O Russell is one of those directors, like Paul Thomas Anderson, who – to my mind – I do not like. However, it transpires that of the very few films I’ve seen by him I’ve rather enjoyed them. So, I don’t know what it was about the deeply oblique trailers for this that made me begin to really want to see it. And, why, when I found out it was the biography of the woman that invented the miracle mop, I just wanted to see it all the more.

Another fantastic cast, at peak game. But, what O’Russell does so well with them is make them believable.  OK, I realise that’s kind of the point of directors and actors.  Let me try and expand.  While this is a dysfunctional family, the heart, the humanity, the reality are all there. There’s a domestic atmosphere that just rings true throughout. It’s at the heart of the film and is what makes it work.  For example Virginia Madsen‘s bed-ridden soap-obsessed mother (although not the matriarch) would be a shrill grotesque in the hands of, say, a Wes Anderson.  Here she has dimensions and we are pleased with her arc.

Here’s a hint: Next time you’re looking to lose a bit of flab, or 20 minutes running time (as some people call it), start with the dream sequences.

Room

Unlike Lenny Abrahamson who I think I’ve loved all his films, but had only seen the two.

The Big Short

Blah-blah cast etc…

Adam McKay, director of this, is also currently co-host of a podcast called Surprisingly Awesome. Each week it takes an apparently dull subject, e.g. concrete, and kicks some interesting into it. This movie does the same with [one facet of] the 2008 crash. It’s not awesome, or particularity surprising. It is pretty damn entertaining though. (If no Margin Call.)

Creed

Forget the “who would’ve thought there was life in the Rocky franchise” question*. Who would’ve thought there was something you’d never seen before in a boxing movie? Like most current ‘re-boot’ movies, Ryan Coogler is happy to throw in those nods and references to give the audience that familiarity. (Although, to be fair, the Rocky movies may have invented this. He needs to do the run, he need to chase a chicken.) But, he also takes current filming techniques and gives us something we’ve never seen before in the tiredest old series of a seriously tired genre. There is a fight earlier on in this which appears to be filmed in one shot. Our POV is right in the heart of the action with the fists, blood and sweat flying. It strikes me as revolutionary as we’re told Raging Bull was back in the day.

* Although, by god there is. And it is a corker.

The BMX Bandits – 100 Club (30 January 2016)

I believe it was Alistair Gray who said “If the The BMX Bandits did not exist we would have to invent them”.

Black Star – David Bowie

In 2013, unexpectedly and seemingly from out of nowhere David Bowie released The Next Day. It made headline news across the world. How could he possibly top that? Oh. Right…

Written by Tony Kiernan

01 February 2016 at 10:54 am

Posted in Film, Gigs, Glasgow, London, Music

2015

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Bit of a strange year for me. I think, a quiet-ish one. For my own benefit, once more…

Books

I bought a Kindle. As I may have mentioned previously, I seemed to have stopped reading. For the last few years I’ve been hauling unfinished books around with me for a good year or so. I always enjoyed the times I did sit down to read them, they just weren’t very often.

First thing was first, finish the hardback I had been humphing about with me. Which was fantastic. It’s weird, I wasn’t not enjoying it just not motivated, or too bust listeningto podcasts and checking social media. I almost don’t want to name the book, as it was given to me as a birthday gift, when it came out. Which a quick check tells me was six years ago now. But, The Way Home by George Pelecanos is worth recommending. It’s as tough, as touching and as downright exciting as you’d expect from the co-creator of The Wire. I will be reading more of his stuff.

The rest of the reading has been lagely me submerging myself in the good-old trashy thriller or police procedural. About the only recent stuff would have been the new Brookmyres. Read the first Stuart MacBride Cold Granite and looking forward to more (and visitng Aberdeen again – despite him capturing it’s icy miserableness bang on). Read all the Cal Innes books. Mainly down to having picked up the first when it was free years ago, and now having the means to do so. Enjoyed it and felt obligated to buy the rest. (Take note all producers.)

Next year, I’ll do some serious literature. But, I’m back reading!

Film

Movies this year seemed to be predominantly about women. From them kicking-ass in the two best blockbusters (Fury Road and The Force Awakens) to the dreamy Bechdel-busting worlds of The Falling and Duke of Burgandy. The big comedies were Trainwreck (which I didn’t see) and Sisters (which I did, and liked a lot). Then in the last month or so we got Carol. Which is a brilliant piece of film-making. But, for me, it lacks the emotional resonance of the staggering Brooklyn and wonderful Grandma
I could list half a dozen films with strong femal leads that I wanted to but failed to catch. Of course , the fact this is pass-remarkable is only an indication that this is still very much far from the norm. 

There were others. The Oscar fair being particularly good. (Birdman, Whiplash, Foxcatcher.) A couple of brilliantly acted indies; Missippi Grind and 99 Homes. I’m not sure Slow West is worth honourable mention. But, I do keep recommending it to folk. 

While I didn’t see anywhere bar the usual amount of animation (Inside Out and Minions of course), I have to say that I think my favourite film of the year was Shaun The Sheep. It made me happy. 

Music

So, as usual, tons of great shows. Mostly the usual suspects. The trip to Muddy Roots obviously stands out. But, best show must be finally seeing The Julie Ruin. Such a powerful, positive night. 

Continuing on the vague riot feel vibe, my favourite new bands were Slum of Legs and the amazing Big Joanie. Looking forward to more shows and recordings in 2016. 

The album I listened to the most was Coward’s Path by Mishkah Shubaly. Managed to catch him a couple of times. Bought some of his ‘singles’ for the Kindle. Looking forward to him coming back this year. 

I WILL listen to more new music in 2016. (And, this time I mean it.)

Beer

Brewdog seemed to get back on their game this year. The second Born To Die IPA nearly convinced me. Their nitro milk stout WILL win prizes when it becomes official next year. But, most of all, with Abstrakt 19. Complex but balanced. So much going on. Proper grown up beer. 

The where-the -fuck-did-that-come-from staring-at-the -glass- and-giggling award goes to Buxton and Wilderness‘ inspired (the only inspired offering this year) collaboration for The Rainbow Project a smoked orange saison Deep Rainbow Valley. Genius 

And, I don’t like saisons. 

Travel

Iceland
Kentucky and Tennessee

Written by Tony Kiernan

31 December 2015 at 7:19 pm

Big Joanie/Dirtygirl/Junk – The Montague Arms (16 December 2015)

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Brilliant night of angry DIY punkers. Very much looking forward to what Big Joanie do in 2016.

Written by Tony Kiernan

17 December 2015 at 12:25 pm

Posted in Gigs, London, Music

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The Go! Team – Oslo (15 December 2015)

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So, my second time at Oslo for a gig. And, hopefully, my last. On my previous visit the wonderful Murder By Death were bludgeoned into a sludgy approximation of Mumford and bloody Sons. Sarah Balliet might as well have gone out siteseeing that that night for all we could hear her. There was a trumpet involved at one point. Well, we could see there was a lboke playing one on stage.

But, every venue has an off night.

Or two, it seems. The Go! Team sound like they have been genrously packed in cotton wool, then drenched in mud, and locked in a box. Next door. It’s horrible. Which is a shame becasue they obviously play a blinder.

Written by Tony Kiernan

16 December 2015 at 10:18 am

Posted in Gigs, London, Music

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