Archive for the ‘Spookey’ Category

2007

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The last two years, I’ve gone for a top ten things of the year type summing up. This year, I’m not going to. There are two reasons for this: I would really end up just repeating a lot of what I said those two years and, tbh, it was a strange year for stuff as I’ll hopefully explain. Let’s start with:

Books

As ever, I didn’t really read many ‘new’ books. I don’t mean that in any oh, I only read the classics type way, but that I’m not one for rushing out to pick up the hardback of something. With a few exceptions and this year it’s been old faithfuls Rankin and Brookmyre, both of whom turned out works of the standard you would expect without trumping some of their earlier works. The best thing I read that was published (over here at least) this year was Joseph Wambaugh‘s Hollywood Station. A series of police procedural vignettes that snowball into one of the tensest edge of the seat finales ever. Structural gold.

A special mention, though, for Cormac McCarthy‘s No Country For Old Men. Although two years old, I only got to it earlier this year. Largely this was due to recommendations on the back of my raving about The Road, but when I found out it was the new Coen Brothers movie (more of which later) I was right in there. Sheer genius. I can’t work out where I lost touch with McCarthy’s work, but feel I really must go back and redo it. I remember All The Pretty Horses being a great big slap in the face at the time.

Film

Look at any list of the movies of the year and you’ll more than likely be looking at a list of films I really wanted to see but somehow, despite my unlimited pass and walking past the cinema every day, managed to completely fail to catch (hello The Lives Of Others, Michael Clayton, Control, 3:10 To Yuma, both Grindhouse parts…). I did manage to catch some fairly decent stuff. But, among the usual more ‘interesting’ selection, it’s three relatively major films that have stuck in the memory the most. First up, of course, the Bourne ultimatum, a flat-out object lesson in how to make a thriller. After all the praise heaped on Casino Royale, director Paul Greengrass didn’t even break a sweat as he insisted no, this is how to do it. Simon Pegg and chums did it again (better, IMO) with the very funny Hot Fuzz. Nice to know proper comedies can still get made. And, french thriller Tell No One made me feel like an real adult moviegoer. (As did the rather excellent Zodiac, actually.)

So, lot’s of good stuff, but nothing that completely blew me away. Although, while in Colorado the other week I did go catch No Country For Old Men. But, when I saw it my body thought it was 7am and I’d been awake for around 23 hours. As a result, I kept nodding off and missed about a third of it (in patches). So, can I really class it as a film I saw last year? I don’t think so. But, I will say that I still intend to be stood outside the cinema on the 18th with my nose pressed up against the door waiting for it to open. Oh yeah…

Music

Which brings me to the real repetition bit I’m trying to avoid. Cathal Coughlan had two monumental performances and a pair of reissues this year. I once more made the trip to the US for New Year with Slim Cessna’s Auto Club. The three gigs were awesome, and the new album will be along in March. The
Spookey girls gave us three kick ass (as usual) gigs (one Brighton, two Glasgow – didn’t get round to blogging that, been so remiss this year) and the new and great Cheeky Girl ep. So, by sheer dint of giving us a new record, they’d have got the number one spot under the ‘old’ system. honourable mention goes to The Supersuckers for finally being back in the country. The venue killed them in Glasgow, but they were ginormous in Brum.

I finally get to see Electrelane and am very much enjoying their No Shouts, No Calls album when they announce they are splitting. Bummer. I completely failed to see The Future Of The Left but love the album Curses. And, The Just Joans slipped their second release out towards the end of the year. More brilliance, any fears I may have had about them keeping it up are completely unfounded.

It was also a year of festivals for me. Ranging from the camping in mud and latrine spirit type all the way to the very effete All Tomorrow’s Parties where you have walls and a shower ‘n’ ting.

And, Julian Cope wasn’t playing at all of them. But, how was his year. Well, the metal trio are getting tighter and beginning to seem like a proper band instead of a grossly misdirected conceit. He put out an album where the production quality seemed inversely proportional to the songwriting quality (it sounds like turd). He continued to dress like a fascist, and a lot of his political ranting seemed to suit that. The usual frustrations, then.

Whither my forays into the classical? This year that amounted to the wonderful Proms In The Park, again, and my first opera. It was a big brash (the posters boasted “live horses!”) populist version of Carmen. And, I loved it! There’ll definitely be more of that next year.

There were other gigs, and other records. Some were/are excellent. But, it was still a very meh year all in.

Some other stuff

Podcasts have still been floating my boat. Two top ones for this year would be Mark Kermode’s Film Reviews from 5Live. Although, sometimes dangerous while sat at work as I do have a tendency to snarl and shout “moron” throughout. And, Smodcast which is basically everything you ever wanted to know about the sex life of movie director Kevin Smith and then some. Childish and puerile but often hilarious, and better than anything you’ll see with Judd Apatow‘s name on it.

Another highlight for me would have to be discovering that Mark Steel‘s columns are no longer pay-to-view at the Indy.

For the first time ever I felt like going to a Catholic Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. Because it would have been worth it to yell during the sermon: “It’s one thing tolerating the Inquisition and the Mafia and an assortment of paedophiles, but surely even YOU draw the line at Blair.”

Also, 2007 will have to go down in (my personal) history as the first time I did not vote. I realised that there was no party I had any faith in for the Holyrood elections and the independent I was going to vote for on the council didn’t reply to my email asking for clarification on a point of policy. So, no-one. The irony is I was berated for this and told I should have at least gone down and spoilt my paper. (For future reference, if any political party wants my vote, come up with a policy (smug git tax?) that’ll have John Sessions promising to leave the country if you get in.)

Written by Tony Kiernan

07 January 2008 at 10:48 pm

Brighton (or, yet another Spookey related post) Pt2

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Sage adviceBleary headed (not least of all due to the hostels very accommodating policy towards residents in the bar) we eventually surface on the Sunday with a plan: Breakfast, find the pub that’s showing the Celtic match, Meet M&S there, drink, go see Spookey, drink some more.

J’s scouted the area and found a cafe that looks like the place for breakfast. It’s close-by (same street as the Chinese place) so off we toddle. The fry up is not great, but passable. However, the cup of coffee that came with it could possibly be the most godawful cup of crap I’ve ever had the misfortune to find placed in front of me. When asked if everything was alright, I point this out. They don’t seem to care. Well, we shan’t return. The experience was slightly tempered by musing as to why they had a poster for Helensburgh on the wall and watching a young lady get some balloons together (not a euphemism) for ‘car-free Sunday’ as it apparently was.

So, to make up for the poor coffee, we head back to the Heart & Hand for the breakfast of champions: Bloody Marys. And, a damn fine one it is they do, too. Then, either as a result of being half cut, the stupendous hangover, or J coming down with the virus I’m just kicking back up from, we end up laid out in the park having a snooze. It’s a lovely sunny day and it’s great fun. Unfortunately, we have somewhere else to be, and that somewhere else appears to be a lot further than we’ve been led to believe.

The Lectern is, apparently, in the middle of the university area of town. It also has the most televisions I’ve seen in a pub outside of an ozzie/sports theme pub (any one, take you pick). Yet, for some reason the motley bunch of Celtic ex-pats are required to fork over £2 to use the dank attic area to watch their matches. Luckily, there’s a nice fire exit and beer garden to keep me entertained throughout. J opts to go sleep in a park, apparently it’s ‘good’. After the match we experience a strange incident where on asking who scored the last goal (Hibs, FWIW) results in a completely un-called for verbal assault from the broken Celts fan towards the one non-Scot in our group. Way to not uphold cultural stereotypes, douche.

We decide to taxi back into town, and it’s just as well because the rain comes on, my god does it come on. No longer it’s summer. The decision has been made to go to the meat version of the all-you-can-eat veggie curry shop, it’s on the way to the venue. Turns out the hugely advertised prices in the window relates to the veggie menu. Sneaky. OK, it’s only a couple of quid, but be honest in your advertising. Turns out not really to be worth it. The best stuff they do is the veggie. Well, filed for future reference.

Minako - justifiably triumphantSo, let’s not moan about the fact that the Concorde 2 is nearly as far out of town as the Lectern. At least the promenade(?) you pass along to get to it is covered. And, in this driving rain, that’s a godsend. (Was it really summer just hours ago?)

We get to the venue just after the first band have finished. We get teated to a couple of poems by the legendary (and local) Attila The Stockbroker. Not having lost any of his edge, wit or bile he made for the perfect compere. (If a fascist hits a poet, the poet’s doing something right).

They open with the mighty M3 from their debut album, and then proceed to give us (with one exception) a set of completely new tracks. OK, quite a whack are from the new Cheeky Girl ep, but I wasn’t familiar with it at this point. There’s also a handful of others that bodes well for future releases. They also close with a version of the Banana Splits theme that had no right to be so rockingly joyful and un-naff. A magnificent performance, but i could’ve strangled the sound man. Can’t wait to get them up to Glasgow.

It’s J’s first time seeing them and he’s gobsmacked (well, that’s my translation of the particularly rude comment he made). S hasn’t managed to extricate himself from chatting up smoking ladies outside the venue, so completely missed them. Fool.

Back up the hill to the Prince Albert for a lot of very drunken, very silly talk. Dontcha just love it when a plan comes together? (Actually, discovered today that the excellent Salter Cane were playing later that night. Oh well, you can’t have everything, and we did check all the listings we could find to see if they were playing while we were down.)

Written by Tony Kiernan

16 October 2007 at 4:10 pm

Posted in Brighton, Music, Spookey

Brighton (or, yet another Spookey related post) Pt 1

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OK, I’ve posted stuff about the wonderful Spookey probably more than just about anything else. And, I suppose there’s only so many ways in which you can explain just how wonderful the experience of seeing them live is or how brilliant their recordings are. But, they have been back in the country. I saw them play three times. Here’s kinda what happened roundabout those gigs.

Everyday people smiley helloAnd, lo! So it came to be that the band were down to play Brighton and a scout hut in the middle of nowhere close by over the September weekend. J had the time booked off for some misguided plan to go to the rescheduled Truckfest and, working in education, I just get it off anyway.

Back in the day, I had a real fondness for Brighton. Recently, I’ve found myself back there for various reasons. As can only be expected, I’ve noticed a lot more gentrification/affluence. Probably a lot more pronounced due to the gap in time since I’d been there. Although, thankfully, unlike the parts of Glasgow that have had the soul ripped from them to facilitate the burgeoning boho-classes and their tanker truck prams of offspring, there’s still enough unbranded, rough and downright funky (in it’s truest sense) places to kick back and enjoy.

Central to this is the North Laine area. It’s a ramshackle network of terraces and pedestrianised streets. It abounds with vegetarian cafes, second hand clothing shops and “antiques dealers” (ie fun to rummage round junk shops). The town is often referred to as Camden-On-Sea due to the influx of young professionals unable to afford London’s trendier areas, and weekend revelers. And, while this district is the epicenter of such painful trendiness, it still manages to maintain a genuine buzz that has been being dismantled in similar places all over the country.

After my last experience staying at their London Bridge branch(es), I swore blind that I would never stay in a St Christopher’s Inn again. However, on my last time I was in Brighton I’d clocked that their hostel there could not possibly be more central. Literally it’s practically across the road from the entrance to the Pier, right next to the bus ‘station’. Unlike their capital counterparts, all of the front-facing staff were as helpful and friendly as you could hope for. The attached Belushi‘s bar is mainly a ‘sports bar’ and full of backpackers. ie. Not somewhere you’d chose to frequent if you were in your right mind, but all right. The accommodation is not as bad as some of their places, but not as good as a lot of similar establishments I’ve stayed in. Functional, and a little tatty. And, no, it’s not ‘character’, it’s wear and tear. Biggest complaint: The cleaner bursting into our hungover room on the Sunday morning yelling about checking out time. Then bursting back in to holler about how she was sorry and didn’t know we were staying another night. Hopefully she had to deal with the aftermath, when we left, of J coming down with the bug I’d got over just before we got there.

The day was spend wandering round just checking the place out and enjoying the occasional drinkie. We were handed a bunch of fliers stapled together (actually a good idea) at one point. This featured info on the gig we would be going to the next night and other stuff on in the town. One of which was Club Meow Meow hosted by the band of the same name who had toured with the girls last year. We decided to forget the travel out to the ‘middle of nowhere’ and to go along to that at the Prince Albert. Well, we might as well try and absorb some of the local atmos.

For dinner we went to a rather cheap Chinese place right on the edge of The Lanes (no ‘i’ this time) near the hostel. Sadly I can’t remember the name of it, which is a shame because the food was good enough for the price and plentiful (I failed abysmally to clear my bowl of Tom Yum) and this would be handy info to pass on to anyone that might find themselves down that way. Looking at the map, it’s very possibly East St (or Lane).

Tony Kiernan in his natural habitat.A leisurely pub stroll up to the venue. (Central Brighton appears to have one hill. The train station is at the top of it. The pub is next to the station.) One of the pubs we visited was the Heart and Hand. It has a Northern Soul record label for a sign and there are pictures of Johnny Cash behind the bar. What more could you possibly want? Well, coffee, TBH and they’d just switched off their machine. So we continued on to the 3 Jolly Butchers where the rather delightful barmaid offered to stop cleaning the Gaggia and make us some coffee. Double espresso, double Jameson‘s and sat outside on a beautiful evening. Ah, I neglected to mention that we got caught unawares with it still being summer down there late in September. For the first time ever I heard J utter the words and, have one for yourself. He claimed it was because the barmaid had been so helpful and accommodating. Aye, right.

The Albert itself was well cool. Well what else can you say about somewhere with a mural of John Peel on the side of it and a Banksy? (The snogging coppers one, now under a protective plastic shield.) The also serve a rather lovely local made perry. In fact we spent the night sat outside just talking to the folk that drifted past or elected to share our table. The worst thing about that being we could hear the bands (upstairs) but didn’t have to pay to enjoy them. I fell slightly guilty. But, not very.

Photos courtesy of Joste Bowen

Written by Tony Kiernan

11 October 2007 at 3:25 pm

Posted in Brighton, Music, Photos, Spookey