Day 11: I Keep Taking Everything For A Sign

Belle & SebastianI’m A Cuckoo (The Avalanches Remix)

Now, I liked the original version of this, with its Thin Lizzy leanings (or outright theft, if you’re going to be less charitable). But this remix by The Avalanches (when, oh when are we going to get a new album?) turns it into something very different; the guitars are jettisoned, instead an African band and choir provide the backing. And it’s fabulous; the percussion provides an odd beat, while the backing vocals complement the song well, despite being as removed from a traditional B&S record as Norwegian Death Metal. Not much more to say, really, only that it’s a song that you’d never expect them to release, but I’m glad they did…

currently playing: Johnny Boy — Crews Against Consumismo (Extended Mix)

Day 10 — Well, You Can Tell Cincinnati

Scissor SistersLaura

Yes, I know; it’s been sitting on my hard drive for over a year now. But, while it may have first come out last year, there’s no denying that 2004 was the year that the Scissor Sisters became Pop’s Most Likely To. Who could possibly forget the performance at Glastonbury, with the follow-up interview where Jake left almost nothing to the imagination? Or T in The Park, where he conducted proceedings in nothing but a precarious-looking blanket? The session on Radio 1 where they took the harsh angular sound of Take Me Out and turned it into a lounge lizard classic? How about when they unleashed glitterdammerung upon Brighton? Or the moment, at 3:15am, where you realise that this song would sound fantastic when mixed in Justin Timberlake’s Rock Your Body?

They are Fun, they are Sparkly, and hopefully, they will scare the pants off a bit section of Middle America when they appear on Saturday Night Live tomorrow. Even if most of their songs do seem to have a melancholy air about them; I haven’t managed to work out just what Laura is going on about, but it seems to involve a hairdresser at some point. I don’t really care, though. It’s bouncy and brings back Michael Jackson’s alternative take on “c’mon”. Let a thousand rainbows bloom. Or something.

currently playing: Scissor Sisters — Filthy/Gorgeous

A Minor Update

I finally got around to changing the comments window to use Gill Sans this evening (for those of you who don’t have the font, it won’t look any different, but trust me, it looks quite pleasant on my iBook). I also wrote a MovableType plugin that adds a little avatar image if it recognises the name of the poster. Click on an entry with a few comments on it to see what it looks like. I haven’t done everybody who has ever posted here, mainly because I ran out of inspiration. So if you want a little picture of you to come up here when you post (or if you’re unhappy with what I gave you!), then send me a 50x50 pixel jpeg image, and I’ll add it to the database.

currently playing: Bob Dylan — Like A Rolling Stone

Day 9: We'll Go Where There's No Snow


Steel drums! A boy singing so high you could be forgiven it was a girl! Yes, it’s the traditional Indie Guitar group for this year. Not a great year for indie bands, considering that the supposed new discovery was a bunch of guys doing a rather insipid Jeff Buckley impression (and Coldplay have already filled that spot, thank you very much). This, though, is quite nice; lots of the usual swirling guitars, but the aforementioned steel drums give Wanderlust a ethereal feeling, especially when combined with the vocals. It’s not a song that is going to change the world, but great for a wistful four minutes.

currently playing: Sleater-Kinney – Oh!

Day 8: God That Was Strange To See You Again

StarsYour Ex-Lover Is Dead

When there’s nothing left to burn, you have to set yourself on fire.

God, that was strange to see you again Introduced by a friend of a friend. Smiled and said “Yes, I think we’ve met before” In that instant it started to pour.

Captured a taxi despite all the rain We drove in silence across Prunchard Plain All the time you thought I was sad I was trying to remember your name.

This scar is a flak on my porcelain skin Tried to reach deep but you couldn’t get in. Now you’re outside me, you see all the beauty Repent all your sin.

It’s nothing but time and a face that you lose I chose to feel it and you couldn’t choose I’ll write you a postcard; I’ll send you the news From the house down the road From real love.

Live through this, and you won’t look back Live through this, and you won’t look back Live through this, and you won’t look back.

There’s one thing I want to say, so I’ll be brave You were what I wanted; I gave what I gave I’m not sorry I met you. I’m not sorry it’s over I’m not sorry there’s nothing to say.

I’m not sorry there’s nothing to say.

currently playing: Stars — Your Ex-Lover Is Dead

Day 7: I'm Just A Crosshair

Franz FerdinandTake Me Out

There are two schools of thought about this single: you either like the first half or the second. If you like the first half, then you smell and people point at you in the street. If you like the second half, then congratulations! You are a right-thinking person who welcomes the return of New Wave in all its arty, angular beauty.

Actually, I quite like both parts; the sadness of “I know I won’t be leaving here with you” that ends the first section, how the song just stops and stomps while the band change direction, and of course the glitter-tinged dancing of the second half. Plus! Black shirts! White ties! I’m a sucker for a band with a well-designed image, I’m afraid…

currently playing: R.E.M. — Daysleeper

And not that you needed it…

…another reason to hate the Parent Television Council.

currently playing: Joy Division — Atmosphere

Day 6: I Don A Pair Of Zip-Up Boots

Rachel StevensSome Girls

You have to feel sorry for the BBC sometimes; they seem to have bad luck in choosing charity records. Most of the time, they’re just dull and inoffensive (e.g. the latest Girls Aloud effort), but every so often, they manage to choose rather inappropriate songs. The Children In Need cover of Perfect Day, with all its heroin allusions, is the classic example, but this year’s Sport Relief single has to be the most unlikely charity record ever.

You have to wonder whether anybody listened past the glorious sparkly-sheened Gary Glitter stomp and paid attention to the lyrics. At all. It’s the story of a girl desperate for fame, and the things she’s willing to do to achieve her dreams (Let’s just say that “the champagne makes it taste so much better” is probably the dirtiest line you’ll have heard in a Top 40 hit this year, and leave it at that, shall we?). And it doesn’t seem to be going well, by the time the song reaches the breakdown:

Hey, Stop You made a promise to make me a star You made a promise I’ll get to the top You made a promise to make me a star You made a promise I’ll get to the top

There’s so much going on in this record; throw-away lines like “he likes to put his own records on”, the electro-house backing track, the expert use of “hey!” as backing vocals, and the nagging question of whether Stevens realises that, from a certain point-of-view, the song refers to her, whether during her Simon Fuller days (I’ve heard stories), or teaming up with hot producer Richard X for this track. Mind you, I wouldn’t care if it the song wasn’t the classic that it surely is. So congratulations to the BBC for encouraging children to sing about the joys of the casting couch…

currently playing: New Order – Procession

Day 5: Three Chords In Your Pocket Tonight

Courtney LoveMono

“Did you miss me?”

Of course we did. Although we are a little worried about you. Calm down a bit; have a cup of tea now and again. Ignore the idiots who think you’re the Yoko Ono of their generation. Look after yourself, and keep coming back every couple of years with another album. Even if half of it turns out to be rubbish, a meta-rock-pop half-stroke of genius like Mono makes it all worthwhile…

currently playing: Delays — On

Interlude: The Star Wars Holiday Special

Today, then: a bootlegged copy of The Star Wars Holiday Special. Broadcast at Christmas on CBS in 1978, it has never been shown legally anywhere ever again. Only bootlegs exist, and George Lucas is on record as saying “if I had the time, I’d get a sledgehammer and destroy every copy in existence.” This, then, is scary territory indeed.

We begin; the first unsettling thought - they didn’t even splash out for the title scenes, instead having a cheap-looking “a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away” slapped on-screen.

“introducing chewbacca’s family” with his son lumpy. HIS SON LUMPY.

It’s a wookie situation comedy! Lumpy is carving an x-wing. I’m really hoping for subtitles. But no. It’s the family life of a suburban wookiee family. And even wookiees aren’t allowed to eat between meals. Please tell me it isn’t an hour and a half of wookiee noises.

Aww, they miss Chewbacca.The little one is excited about something. They’re playing things on the holographic table.and right about now, you realise just why this has been erased from the official history. THEY’RE WATCHING A HOLOGRPAHIC CIRCUS. While a synthesiser is horrendously abused in the background. NO KITTY IT’S MY POT PIE! Lumpy is Cartman, I’ve decided.

Ooh, is that the plot coming back? Oh god, it’s Luke. Mark Hamill seems to be wearing a lot of make-up. “Come on, Marla, let me see a little smile!” It’s a wookiee! How can you tell!?

We’re now in a shop. It’s like Clerks! For The Imperial Guard Who Has Everything. But the shopkeeper is a Rebel spy! With a sophisticated code of “It was made by hand. SOLO!” And now Imperial shaving techniques.

Oh dear, back to the wookiess again. Star Wars cookery? “Bantha Surprise?” The horror. And it’s not being played for laughs, it really is a whole cooking segment. And the cook has three arms.Make that four.

Back to Han and Chewie for a bit of action, stolen from the original film.

The Empire has declared the Wookiee planet under martial law. Perhaps they saw the cooking segment. Now the wookiees are getting presents from the shopkeeper. Lumpy seems to have got an Atari 2600. And another has been strapped into what looks like an electric chair, but it’s apparently some sort of virtual reality device. PEOPLE ARE SWIMMING THROUGH SPACE. A virtual woman is now sweet-talking the old wookiee. I’m sure this is against the law, and just plain ewww. And now she’s singing. Complete with dodgy 1970s compositing effects to duplicate her across the screen. Really, mere words can’t convey how creep and sick and wrong this scene is.

Now onto C3PO and Princess Leia. I’m sure Carrie Fisher’s drunk. She almost tripped over when walking across the set. Amd I don’t want to know what a wookie-ookie is.

Han and Chewbacca have landed on the Wookiee planet! But no! Stormtroopers have taken over Chewie’s house! But they’re pacifying the troops by letting them watch Jefferson Starship. One of whom seems to be singing into a lollypop. But the guard is digging it! I’m hoping for a Stormtrooper hoedown by the end. When it ends. Oh,sweet blessed relief will soon be upon us.

And now a cartoon? A rather odd cartoon, in which character models seem to be a rough guide, rather than something to be adhered to. Boba Fett! Who…doesn’t act like any other incarnation of of Fett that we’ve seen before. Oh, it was a double-cross. And the animator didn’t like Harrison Ford’s face. Wait, was that supposed to be an ending?

Imperial dudes wrecking the wookiee’s house! It’s a heartbreaking moment; Lumpy’s bantha toy has been broken in two by Empire forces. Those scumbags. And now he’s watching an instruction video. A freaky instruction video; making a transmitter has never been quite so scary. Or long and drawn out.

Bea Arthur as a bartender! No, just no. And now she’s singing. I am never going to get rid of the mental scarring.

SHOOT HIM! SHOOT THE WALKING FLUFFBALL! Han saves the day! Lots of hugs.Ford has this look of “PLEASE! SOMEBODY RESCUE ME FROM THIS TERROR!” But Han has now gone, so we’re left with the wookiees. Oh please, no. wookiee on wookie action!

All the wookies are walking through space into a ball of light. And R2D2 and C3PO have turned up. With no explanation. Oh, and here comes everybody else. CARRIE FISHER HAS JUST BROKEN OUT INTO SONG. KILL US NOW. THEY’VE DISCOVERED WORDS TO THE STAR WARS THEME. This has gone beyond strange and into the stuff of nightmares.

I will say, though, that it makes The Phantom Menace look like The Godfather in comparison…

currently playing: Monaco — What Do You Want From Me?