Archive for July 5th, 2006

Hard Candy

It seems like ages since I last went to the cinema (blummin’ flip it was). There’s been tons of stuff I’ve wanted to catch (and lots I don’t, really, but find myself strangely drawn to) but other commitments and sheer laziness have conspired to keep me away. I really must rectify this.

So, in an effort to do so, first up is Hard Candy. This first full length film from (Warp video) director David Slade is for some strange reasons being referred to as a slasher movie with a twist. Surely that would mean there was a hidden psycho and young folks going for ill-advised late night skinny dips? Or have I lost grip of an entire genre? Instead what we have is fairly taut two hander. I believe ‘psychological’ is the term they used to use for this kind of thing. Story: 30-something Jeff has met 14 year old Hayley online. They agree to meet, he tempts her back to his flat with promises of Goldfrapp bootlegs. (Run Hayley! Run!!) The crux of all this being is he/isn’t he a paedophile? Hayley reckons so. Back at the flat, she spikes his drink and he awakes to find himself tied to a chair…

The opening scenes of this when they meet in a coffee house are seriously disturbing. I’ve not felt my flesh crawl like that in some time. This is not just a ‘oh the subject matter’ response, there’s something seriously skewy going on there. Really, really tense. Hitchcock would be proud.

And, then they get back to the flat and the tension sorta dissipates. I think this is because we’re on slightly more familiar ground. (Although my companion at this reckons it’s because Jeff takes off his creepy paedo specs.) Although the tensions gone, the movie does still keep a strong sense of claustrophobia throughout. And, there’s a nice, if inexplicable and unnecessary, use of colour, no doubt harking to Slade’s promo making days. But, it never really regains the tension of those opening scenes.

Apparently, there’s a bit in here that’ll have all men crossing their legs. I’m not really sure which particular bit is being referred to, but mainly because there’s a couple of candidates. And, I did find myself sniggering throughout at what could be possibly some of the blackest comedy around. Although that might just be me.

As with a lot of high concept stuff the ending feels trite, rushed and really kinda half-baked. And, to a certain extent it kida stops mattering if he is/isn’t.

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Written by Tony Kiernan

05 July 2006 at 2:34 pm

Posted in Film

Dan Sartain – Dan Sartain Vs The Serpientes

If Yes! Tinnitus! is crap, this is just plain rubbish. I’ve come to Dan Sartain on some (usually trusted) recommendations. He’s signed to John ReisSwami Records who like Jello can’t leave his roster alone to get on with it and turns up one here somewhere (I can’t even be bothered checking where).

So, the case for the prosecution: Let’s look at the three tracks called Walk Among The Cobras (grrr…he loves that imagery). Pt1 – Half a cliched riff, and an idea for a bridge. Kinda like Del Shannon‘s Runaway without the walking in the rain. Or the running away for that matter. Pt2 – Just what the world needs, another C86 reject. Pt3 – I guess this bontempi cod-reggae setting version is meant to be the soulful one. It isn’t. The rest of this album is half-finished ideas that you’d get from any teenage boy with his first guitar and the bumper Travis songbook. Unfortunately, it really does think it’s cutting edge dirty rock ‘n’ roll.

It’s not big, it’s not clever and it’s not dangerous. I want you to go home and think about what you’ve done.

Apparently he’s a great raconteur live. Well fine. Just don’t make any more records. I want my £1.99 back, this just isn’t worth it.

Written by Tony Kiernan

05 July 2006 at 12:40 pm

Posted in Records

Shooting At Unarmed Men – Yes! Tinnitus!

I’ve waxed lyrical on my love of McLusky previously. So, it’s a bit annoying to discover so late on that Jon Chapple has got a new band. In fact, I’m so late coming to Shooting At Unarmed Men that not only is this their second album, but they’ve split and Chapple’s emigrated down under.

I always regarded the strength of McLusky to be the interplay between his bass and Andy Falkous’ guitar. It was really a duo, with a drummer. IMO, of course. However, on this showing, I was maybe giving him a bit too much credit. Sub-Sonic Youth-y shouty (again? so much shouting) crap (no other word). Pedestrian. Even at best it fails to stand up to any of the ‘out-takes on McLuskism.

Closer In flight Instructions Are a Joke – I Say gets closest in threatening to raise itself from out-take to potentially a b-side. But, you can’t help thinking there’s soemwhere it should be going that it doesn’t.

They then take the hidden-track at the end thing to new extremes by having the whole album in it’s entirety tacked onto the end. Just a shame I’m not really inspired to listen to it all again. However, they slip the sound of the album being rewound before it. There’s something strangely hipnotic about it that I can’t help thinking were it shoved out by the Aphex Twin it’d be heralded as avant genius. So, there you go,something imaginative and interesting shoved in there as part of a bad joke.

Oh well, roll on Falkous‘ new project…

Written by Tony Kiernan

05 July 2006 at 12:19 pm

Posted in Records

The Coal Porters – Brel/The Goat (25 June 2006)

The Coal Porters - Ashton LaneBut, just in case you feel the need to know more, there’s a loverly day in the West End sunshine to be added to it. Well, as lovely as the West End gets (ie completely demoralising and wanky). It’s the end of the festival and the Coal Porters are playing two (count ’em) free gigs. Woo-hoo!

The Brel one is actually out in Ashton Lane. To be honest, I really wish they’d brought a flatbed truck for the band to play on he back of. Not because I couldn’t see them, just that the rostra weren’t really fulfilling the vibe potential.

Neil Robert Herd (who soundtracked last years Oscar winning short Wasp) is apparently doing some work for the BBC for the kind of money the band can’t deny him. So, in his place they have a terribly posh young chap called Olly (I think). He spends most of the gigs battering hell out of a three-quarter length classical guitar. And, is well impressive. (The lack of Herd’s scots twang takes a little from the harmonies, but not enough to spoil anything.)

Despite swearing blind I would never darken it’s portals again, I then find myself (working on the worse-for-wear) at The Goat. Now, taking the goat is unfortunately not a well known phrase or saying. If it were, it would apply fully to the bar prices in this place. (Rant curtailed for the time being.)

Sid Griffin is captain charisma himself. Everything a good band leader should be. Those points where they step forward of the PA to give us it as it used to be done are mesmeric. I wanna live in a log cabin, and make my own entertainment. Erm…that really doesn’t sound right.

Even third time round, that fiddle solo is awesome.

Written by Tony Kiernan

05 July 2006 at 11:32 am

Posted in Gigs

The Coal Porters – Cumbernauld Theatre (22 June 2006)

A year ago (and a bit), I used the word ‘wonderful’ too many times to describe this lot. Nothings changed, really. Last time we blagged in to swell the audience with the maxim that if we don’t go to stuff like this, they’ll just keep booking that bloke off Stars In Their Eyes what does Freddie Mercury. This time we’ve forked out for them. Yup, their that good.

It’s acoustic. And, it’s bluegrass. And, it’s brilliant. That’s really all you need know. They make me want to hoe my down. (See, told you that was all you needed to know.)

Written by Tony Kiernan

05 July 2006 at 11:06 am

Posted in Gigs

Disaster Strikes – Liberty Toast

God, this record is sooooooooo annoying. More generic shouty-punk stuff, but a little less worthy and sweaty than usual. But, there are some really great ideas going on here. The opening track comes on like some demented take on the Batman theme before degenerating into emo-by-numbers (and, no, not Mr Philips). Which the rest kinda does too.

And, just when you’re beginning to forgive that because (as I said) there’s some interesting stuff going on round about it they (stupidly) shove in a track with Jello Biafra guesting on vocals. Now, I don’t know if it’s the case that he only signs bands that he’d like to work with, or he’s sussed that the ones he crowbars himself into sell more copies but I suspect the latter (hey! I keep buying them). All his presence here does is succeed in highlighting the shortcomings that you’ve just began to let them off with.

If that’s not enough they then follow it with Ballad Of The Sinner Boy wherein they attempt to out-Hüsker Dü (oh, I know that means nothing) and it stands up as their best attempt is completely atypical. so, that’s you half way through and it’s time to start from scratch. They need to try and win back all that they’ve squandered.

Add to that the (currently obligatory Cassetteboy style ‘political’ cut ‘n’ paste job at the end and it’s ho-hum time. Same old, same old. Shame.

Written by Tony Kiernan

05 July 2006 at 10:51 am

Posted in Records

A Challenge To The Cowards of Christendom – The Knight Of The New Crusade

OK. Check out the website. Done that? Yup, blokes dressed a crusaders playing garage rock songs in praise of Jesus. What more do you need know?

Yes, there’s a history of ‘wacky’ concept bands through the 50s & 60s doing this sort of stuff. The ‘ironic’ take on it probably reached breaking point in the nineties with geordie tag mexican wrestling team The Coyote Men (possibly the great lost band of the last decade). So, do we need this lot?

Y’know we’re all miserable sinners… (Well, I’m miserable at least). I suppose the big question is are they taking the piss. Now, the fact that they’re on AT would instantly have had me saying so previously. However, when I was talking to my mate Jello last (ahem) I was staggered to learn that Slim Cessna’s Auto Club are genuine in their devotional stuff (particularly with the ‘Rev’ Dwight not being an affectation). So, this band could well be signed purely for the quality of the music. And, damn fine music it is too. It’s not difficult to do this kinda stuff. Christ knows there’s a hundred and one dreadful efforts available down any sweaty venue any day of the week. But pulling it off this well takes a bit of talent.

Best tracks? Opener Knight Me – a statement of intent/call to arms. What Part Of ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill’ Don’t You Understand? – ’nuff said. And stomping closer Knight Beat, possibly the best garage punk track sung in tongues EVER!

The fact that their stance is along the lines that most of the clergy and organised religion a hypocritical, money-grabbing liars helps too.

Written by Tony Kiernan

05 July 2006 at 10:17 am

Posted in Records