Saturday, 29 June 2013

One to Watch - Ideal

Creator: Graham Duff
Starring: Johnny Vegas, Graham Duff, Nicholas Reynolds
Channel: BBC
Run: 2005-2011

Ideal appears to be one of those television series that passed a lot of people by. Even your typical Britain, who - believe me - knows there shit when it comes to television (blame the weather, perhaps?). The fact that Johnny Vegas (well renown stand-up comedian and key figure in the ITV series, Benidorm) starred in this should have been enough to drag large proportions of Benidorm fiends. It seemingly didn't.

Sure, Ideal isn't your existential version of Benidorm.  It runs far deeper. You have scratch for the clues. It's a stoner's wet dream, all told.

Creator, Graham Duff (who also plays the flamboyant homosexual, Brian),  creates  a satirical version of scheme life in Northern England, capturing the difficulties one has to free themselves from social decay. Not that Moz, (played by Vegas) really has any intentions of pitching a tent anywhere else other than his flat (despite the temporary hiatus to Portugal). He seems content on selling his weed to the characters who filter in and out of his flat for the duration of the series.

Although set in the mundane, as each episode passes you develop a feel for each character and their idiosyncrasies that you can't help but maintain an interest.

Duff not only encapsulates common Britain to a tee; the elements of black comedy hit home in the driest sense possible. Don't discard Ideal's most fucked up elements, either; there's plenty. After all, who else would have a gangster known as 'Cartoon Head' as one of the most pivotal characters? I won't say too much more on that front.

The soundtrack isn't one to be sneezed at, either. It's a musical nerds heaven, in fact. Duff, a DJ himself, hand picked the selection, as the sounds of Ugly Duckling, Bowery Electric and Deerhunter create an interesting juxtaposition throughout the series.

In hindsight, the series could've been trimmed a season. Throughout seasons 6 and 7, things become a little stagnate, however in saying that, there's not too many BBC series that last this sort of distance. This on its own is a victory to the series.

One for a laugh, indeed. Ideal is one of the finest escapisms you could come across these days. It's like a vicariously getting stoned.  I totally recommend it.

By Simon K.

Friday, 28 June 2013

Update - Irvine Welsh

Okay, so let's get one thing straight. Irvine Welsh is my favourite author. By some distance, too, I might add. He is the only author that will continuously have me in fits of laughter. John Peel once said that as long as The Fall  released a new album, then that was his sole reason to live. Putting John's analogy into practice and I feel the same about Welsh.

His themes stem from dark places; urban decay, drug use, et al. Welsh shapes his characters based on the social conditions of a particular time. Politics shapes these social conditions. Recently he spoke to The Quietus about the forthcoming adaptation of Filth; in my opinion, his finest work.

Welsh also confirmed that he working on the follow-up to the fantastic Skagboys; his prequel to Trainspotting. Although yet to be titled, the follow-up is a "lesbian noir" based in Miami.

Check out the interview here.

Side note: thanks to my spiritual brother, Sean Beadmore, for the heads up on this article. Also, check out his blog, folks. My boy knows his onions.

By Simon K.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Live Review - Killing Joke

Artist: Killing Joke
Date: Thursday June 6, 2013
Venue: The Hi Fi Bar, Brisbane, QLD

Depending on your entry point, Killing Joke is one of those bands who can give the listener a different vibe.  I remember first listening to their acclaimed début album many moons ago and coming away questioning what all the fuss was about.

It wasn't until I endured their 2003 comeback album (which ironically is also a self-titled affair) that I actually  began to realise the urgency Killing Joke posses. As we venture upon the Hi Fi bar, my friend, John, pretty much sums up the beast that is Killing Joke:

"Extremities, Dirt & Various Repressed Emotions pretty much transformed Killing Joke into a fucking behemoth."

And with that, folks, my good friend hit the nail on the head. It's not that front man, Jaz Coleman, and his themes were any less urgent when he wrote albums such as 1980's self-titled début and Revelations. The music, well in my opinion anyway, seemed to be at a parallel with such damning statements. The production seemed like a square peg in a round hole.

As Night Time and Brighter Than A Thousand Suns saw Killing Joke attempt to broaden their fan base, it was Extremities...  that changed and transformed this band. I can hear some of you shaking your head in disbelief at this point, but touching on the first paragraph, it's all about the entry point.

Extremities.... is everything that Killing Joke and Revelations are not. Brutal, pulverising and just fucking dark, lyrically and musically. Their return in 2003 picked up right where albums such as Extremities... and Pandemonium left off. Killing Joke haven't looked back since.

2011's Absolute Dissent is Killing Joke at the height of their return in my books. It combines the lyrical themes of Killing Joke and the pounding noisescapes of Extremities... and Killing Joke (2003) resulting in the behemoth my friend John referred to. Coleman's still crazed, while Martin "Youth" Glover and Kevin "Geordie" Walker appear to be some sort of calming influence, as their leader's psychopathic glares during the robust renditions of 'Requiem' and 'Wardance' make most within his line of vision shudder and shake. This is the Killing Joke live experience. Not unlike watching Swans in the live arena, in fact.

Killing Joke is a relentless animal. The guitar sound of metal on bone coupled with droning bass is piercing for the listener, basically making you feel like a rabbit in headlights. 'The Wait', again sounds so much more dynamic and urgent in the live arena as opposed to the album experience. New songs such as 'Rapture' and 'Corporate Elect' also surpass album renditions trading dense production for loose, abrasive chaos.

Night Time tracks 'Live like Blood and 'Eighties' have also never sounded so pure and intrusive, wrought with haste and danger while 'Asteroid' gouges at the ears of the crowd, almost feeling like holes have been blown through the amplification in the process.

This is something akin to an out of body experience. It feels like post punk at its monolithic best. Not many can boast an ideology such as Killing Joke's. They lead the way for anti-establishment bands today and while acts such as ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead, The Drones, and Primal Scream have all recently made polemic statements through their art, Killing Joke have been doing it for over 30 years.

When a guy in the crowd yells out "Don't fucking stop. EVER!" most around him, including myself, laugh. As much as it sounded like belligerent nonsense at the time, I can't helping but thinking that there was a damning message within that belligerence.

They've outlived a lot of their contemporaries and while mentioned in the same esteem such as The Clash and Gang of Four, Killing Joke have continued to break the boundaries, with their body of sound now just as dangerous and paranoid as their message.

By Simon K.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Back in the Game!

Evening, folks. Sorry it's been a while between drinks here. Lack of technology and a few other things have kept me at bay from the blog over the past few months. Posts will appear more frequently in the foreseeable future. 

Check out a really good interview from Bristol stalwart, Tricky, over at (his new album False Idols, is great too, so check that out while you're at it!). 

Quick message to Faster Louder;  Concentrate on putting more material  like this on your site instead of speculating who will join the likes of Mumford and Spawns on the Splendour In The Grass line-up. Tom Waterhouse probably has odds on his website for such things, so quit bowing down to mass demand and continue providing some quality such as the interview linked above. 

Back to the cricket: keep checking this blog; some more material will appear in due course.

Simon K.

Live Review - ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead

Band: ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead
Date: May 24, 2013
Venue: Coniston Lane, Brisbane, QLD

Bands playing albums in their entirety  has worn quite thin with me, I have to tell you. I believe it takes away the element of surprise. "Will they play this or will they play that". Yes there's such as thing as, however there is another thing called self control and I've always been one of those guys who steers clear of set lists prior to a gig.

In ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead's case my scepticism is even more so. Playing their seminal opus, Source Tags and Codes appeared to be an odd call. For one, their latest outing, Lost Songs, slew and in a big way. Second of all, I felt that such events appeared to be a slap in the face to the likes of former members, Kevin Allen, and Neil Busch. The former, in particular as he was such an integral force of the band for a lot of years. That's certainly not saying Neil Busch wasn't. For the record, 'Monsoon' and 'Mark David Chapman' are amongst my favourite ... ToD songs; both of which Busch wrote and performed vocals. Busch's departure seemed a little more clear cut than Allen's (the former leaving due to a string of personal issues). Allen's departure still appears to be clouded in uncertainty. 

In any case the latest incarnation of the Deads seems to be on the upward tilt. Conrad Keely and Jason Reece have always been the one-two punch in which make Austin's finest band tick. And with that last statement I guess I'm throwing my eggs into one basket; yes, this is probably my favourite band. That's why the nagging feeling of apprehension is all the more strange.

However, my initial reluctance is put to bed after the band (now consisting of Autry Fulbright II on bass and Jamie Miller drums, guitar) come out to the Source Tags... piano interlude and kick into 'It Was There That I Saw You', which from the very first strike of the chord from Keely, sounds tone perfect.

The stripped back nature of the band's last two outings, Lost Songs and Tao of the Dead certainly filters through to songs from Sources Tags... 'Heart In The Hand of the Matter' and 'Relative Ways' seem to swap the arty scapes for feedback and fuzz. The same feedback and fuzz which make new tracks such as 'Catatonic' sound so fucking good. It's an interesting juxtaposition with these songs. I was lucky enough to see them in the heart of Source Tags and Codes era back in 2002 so to see the songs performed with more balls and less grandeur is an interesting proposition. 

After the album is played from front to back, the band takes a break for 10 minutes then returns to the stage, leaning into  'Catatonic'; personally, my favourite song of last year. Jason Reece has always been capable of penning a gem and this is up there with the best he's done, rendering a snapshot of the modern age and coupling such polemic themes with power chords that would make Fugazi proud. 

I was a bit bummed that they didn't play more from Lost Songs; 'Heart of Wires' and 'Awestruck' would've fit the mood perfectly. But instead we were treated with oldies such as "love song", 'Claire De Lune' from Madonna and the anthemic 'Caterwaul' from the severely underrated Worlds Apart. 

In the end it doesn't really matter what ..And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead play. What you see is what you get. Up front, intricate riffs and brawn chords coupled with heavy pounding and weaving bass lines. Keely's a lyrical genius in my books; always has been. His partnership with Reece is undoubtedly spell-binding. The latter could probably fall in the genius category himself, too. If only he penned a few more songs, though (solo album, perhaps Jase?) I'm sure other Deads fans yearn for such a thing. 

A night that was originally met with wariness, I walked away pleasantly surprised. Almost amazed in fact (and I detest using such superlatives). That's what your favourite bands should do to you, though. After all, that's what make them your favourite band.

By Simon K.