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    Thursday, November 27, 2008

    2008 Albums of the Year

    Can't believe its that time of year again and the music mags have already put out their Album of the year lists. Anyhow here's mine.

    1. Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago
    2. Fleet Foxes, Fleet Foxes
    3. Elbow, the Seldom Seen Kid
    4. Vampire Weekend, Vampire Weekend
    5. Yeasayer, All Hour Cymbals
    6. Sigur Rós : Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust
    7. Joan as Policewoman, To Survive,
    8. Cut Copy, In Ghost Colours
    9. The Jimmy Cake, Spectre & Crown
    10. Martha Wainwright, I Know You’re Married But I’ve Got Feelings Too

    11. Portishead, Third
    12. Laura Marling, Alas I Cannot Swim
    13. Goldfrapp, Seventh Tree
    14. Deerhunter, Microcastle
    15. Jape, Ritual
    16. Ra Ra Riot, The Rhumb Line
    17. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Dig Lazarus! Dig!
    18. Erykah Badu, New Amerykah, Pt 1: 4th World War
    19. Lisa Hannigan, Sea Sew
    20. Lykke Li, Youth Novels

    21. Keane, Perfect Symmetry
    22. The Verve, Forth
    23. Kings of Leon, Only By the Night
    24. Cat Power, Jukebox
    25. Santogold, Santogold
    26. The Dodos, Visiter
    27. Coldplay, Viva La Vida
    28. She & Him, Volume One
    29. The Raconteurs, Consolers of the Lonely
    30. Hercules and Love Affair, Hercules and Love Affair

    31. Foals, Antidotes
    32. The Killers, Day & Age
    33. Peter Broderick, Home
    34. Peter Broderick, Float
    35. Gemma Hayes, The Hollow of the Morning
    36. Crystal Castles, Crystal Castles
    37. Vetiver, A Thing of the Past
    38. Amadou and Miriam, Welcome to Mali
    39. Ryan Adams and the Cardinals, Cardinology
    40. Chequerboard, Penny Black

    41. The Roots, Rising Down,
    42. My Morning Jacket, Evil Urges
    43. R.E.M., Accelerate
    44. Emmylou Harris, All I Intended to Be
    45. The Breeders, Mountain Battles
    46. Tapes’n’Tapes, Walk it Off
    47. Ray Lamontagne, Gossip in the Forest
    48. The Last Shadow Puppets, The Last Shadow Puppets
    49. Beck, Modern Guilt
    50. Oasis, Dig Out Your Soul

    Monday, November 10, 2008

    Fleet Foxes at Vicar Street

    I had high expectations on the way to Vicar Street last Friday night. Fleet Foxes are one of the most outrageously talented bands to emerge in a long long time. Their eponymously titled debut album is an instant classic and the Sun Giant EP that preceded it is flawless too.

    Its great to be able to say I thought they were even better live. I went with three friends and we all thought they were amazing - Ciara did think they needed a wash and some fattening up though.

    The songs sound timeless and the harmonies are beautiful. There’s no potential here, its all in place, a fully realised act. They are the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young of our time, only better.

    Some good photos from the gig.

    And two videos of the singles from the album below.

    Fleet Foxes - He Doesn't Know Why

    Fleet Foxes - White Winter Hymnal

    Monday, September 22, 2008

    Lisa Hannigan Sea Sew and Whelans

    Really like Lisa Hannigan's new album Sea Sew a lot now but it was a grower, like Vampire Weekend's debut, its general cheery upbeatness can make it sound a little too innocuous on first listen. On repeated listens the quality of the songwriting stands out particularly Ocean and a Rock, I Don't Know, Pistachio, Teeth and Lille.

    Saw her in Whelan's on Saturday and she was excellent but there is definitely more potential there. At the moment she's like the Irish musical equivalent of Arsenal's Theo Walcott if you follow. I think she's still to realise quite how good a singer she is. She's goin to be the Irish Feist.

    There were two songs, Teeth and a song before it i didn't recognise where she really let her guard down and the vocals were magnificent. Oh and the Iron & Wine cover was superb.

    Lisa Hannigan singing Teeth on Other Voices

    Monday, September 1, 2008

    Post Electric Picnic Musings

    So, this was my second time at the Electric Picnic following on from 2007.

    It was an absolutely incredible three days. Michael Franti said it was the coolest festival in Europe. I’ve only the execrable Oxegen to compare it with, but its hard to imagine a better festival.

    I cannot get over the amount of rubbish being talked about the music line up being weak this year, I felt spoilt for choice.

    The Music

    Sigur Ros

    I got up front at the main stage for this moving and magnificent performance, sheer perfection. One of the best sets I’ve ever had the privilege to hear.

    The Dodos

    In a criminally half empty tent, the Dodos gave a thrillingly exciting, percussion driven monster of a set. So, so good.


    Faultless stuff. Newborn, Station Approach and On A Day Like this were pure magic. I was almost crying tears of joy for this one. Almost!

    My Bloody Valentine

    Couldn’t believe my luck to actually get into the Electric Arena for this, had presumed there would be an oversubscription as for the Beastie Boys last year.

    They were amazing, the whole bloody set. Visuals were cool. And hearing Soon live is just something I never thought I’d get to do. Seriously special. Reminded me they are indeed one of the greatest rock’n’roll bands ever. Now Kevin, give us that third album already.

    Franz Ferdinand

    Was very pleased and surprised at how easy it was to get up front at the main stage for the Franz, Wilco, the Roots, Michael Franti. Also surprised that Franz Ferdinand’s set had me jumping up and down with joy. I had kind of forgotten about them in the last couple of years.

    Cut Copy

    An absolute blast - these guys went down a storm in a packed tent, a killer set, don’t know why they aren’t huge here already. A guy beside me said, ‘these guys are amazing, never heard of them before, they sound like New Order meets Depeche Mode.’ He was right.

    The other Irish acts

    The Irish in general did themselves proud

    Lisa Hannigan

    Based on her set on the Crawdaddy stage, its hard not to see why Lisa Hannigan isn’t destined for megastardom. She was fantastic in an uncomfortably crowded tent. Can’t wait to buy the new album.


    It was great to see some of my friends realising how great this guy is. The sound was very muddy for this but great energy. I Was the Man was a festival highlight no doubt.

    Cathy Davey

    First, that black dress, struth, has to be the visual highlight of the week. I heard she’s a nervous performer but she must have gotten over that, really assured performance. ‘Moving’ and ‘Sing for your Supper’ were two more highlights.

    Gemma Hayes
    – quality set from Gemma Hayes too, haven’t seen her live in about 6 years. And she is still pretty much the most ridiculously attractive looking women on the planet.

    Goldfrapp and Joan as Policewoman

    Goldfrapp totally owned the main stage, gutted I missed ‘Utopia’ as I couldn’t drag myself away from Joan as Policewoman.

    The Roots, The Breeders Kila, Michael Franti and George Clinton were a lot of fun too.

    The Low Lights

    John Lydon/Rotten – wins the Arsehole of the festival award hands down. I had to endure his sneering, homophobic rants while queuing for pie minister. The Sex Pistols should never have been booked for EP, they are a panto act, an irrelevant money chasing, cultural corpse.

    The Chill Out Stage was plagued with sound problems which meant I missed sets by Vyvienne Long and Martina Topley Bird. The gobsmackingly talented Laura Marling had her set ruined by broken strings and ill health.

    The Dance stages were too far away from everything else!

    So many good bands, couldn’t see them all - gutted I missed Santogold, Tindersticks, Foals, Dobet Gnahore, Modeselktor, A-trak, Juana Molina, Tinariwen, Underworld and many more.

    The Vibe

    The vibe was fantastic, besides one idiot barging into me in the Heineken bar, I didn’t meet one other rude person all weekend. All the staff were really friendly and efficient. The food was fantastic, even more choice than last year and while I didn’t make much time for the non-music side of things it was great to see how much was there for people who wanted an alternative to music.

    Plus the weather was freakishly good!

    Enjoyed the Ticket EP updates, so fair play to all involved.

    Wednesday, July 30, 2008

    Autumn Winter Gigs 2008

    Colm Mac Con Iomaire, Whelans, Tuesday Sep 7
    Shearwater, Whelans, Friday Sep 19
    Bon Iver, Tripod, Tuesday Oct 7
    Spirtitualised, Vicar Street, Sunday Oct 19
    Holy Fuck, The Academy, Monday Oct 20
    Lambchop, Tripod, Saturday Nov 1
    Mercury Rev, Vicar Street, Sunday, Nov 2
    Okkervil River, The Academy, Friday, Nov 7
    Goldfrapp, Tripod, Friday, Nov 7
    Fleet Foxes, Vicar Street, Friday Nov 7
    The Jimmy Cake. Vicar Street, Friday, 21 November

    Sunday, July 13, 2008

    Best of 2008 to July

    3 Five star bonafide truly great albums destined to be regarded as absolute classics by a lot of folk in the years to come

    Fleet Foxes, Fleet Foxes
    Vampire Weekend, Vampire Weekend
    Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago

    7 flirting with future classic status

    Elbow, the Seldom Seen Kid
    The Jimmy Cake, Spectre & Crown
    Sigur Rós : Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust
    Goldfrapp, Seventh Tree
    Portishead, Third
    Jape, Ritual
    Erykah Badu, New Amerykah, Pt 1: 4th World War

    5 consistently excellent albums

    Lykke Li, Youth Novels
    Cut Copy, In Ghost Colours
    Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Dig Lazarus! Dig!
    Laura Marling, Alas I Cannot Swim
    Martha Wainwright, I Know You’re Married But I’ve Got Feelings Too

    2 Quality albums

    Cat Power, Jukebox
    The Raconteurs, Consolers of the Lonely

    7 intermittently excellent efforts

    Santogold, Santogold
    Hercules and Love Affair, Hercules and Love Affair
    Crystal Castles, Crystal Castles
    Beck, Modern Guilt
    The Dodos, Visiter
    Gemma Hayes, The Hollow of the Morning
    My Morning Jacket, Evil Urges

    7 good, solid but not amazing albums

    Coldplay, Viva La Vida
    R.E.M., Accelerate
    Foals, Antidotes
    The Breeders, Mountain Battles
    Tapes’n’Tapes, Walk it Off
    The Roots, Rising Down,
    Vetiver, A Thing of the Past

    Wednesday, July 9, 2008

    Electric Picnic Line Up Final Verdict

    An almost final verdict on the Electric Picnic line-up - can’t see them adding too many acts in the next month or so.

    The line up features as has always been the case, less hugely well known successful artists than Oxegen but a lot of acts that have released brilliant albums over the last year or so including rock royalty Sigur Ros, Wilco, Elbow, the Breeders and Tindersticks.

    Some of the best electronic artists out there in Modeselktor and Crystal Castles, and lets not forget Underworld. Great dance oriented acts in Cut Copy, Santogold and Hercules and Love Affair. Backed up by lesser known quality electronic/dance in Digitalism, the Presets, and Midnight Juggernauts.

    Plus Goldfrapp whose new album is amazing. And the legendary My Bloody Valentine.

    Some of the best DJ’s in the world with A-trak, Diplo, and David Holmes.

    One of the best hip hop acts bar none in the Roots.

    A strong selection of Irish talent with Jape, Gemma Hayes, Cathy Davey, Lisa Hannigan, and Adrian Crowley.

    Some very fine acts in the singer songwriter folk/alt country range with the Dodos, Bright Eye’s Conor Oberst, Stephanie Dosen, Juana Molina, Louise Rhodes and Terry Callier.

    Franz Ferdinand, Foals and Gomez filling out the supply of decent guitar bands.

    Plus you’ve got the Balanescu Quartet, Tinariwen, and the Congoes so its not all indie rock/dance.

    All in all there’s over 40 acts I’d like to see playing at the Electric Picnic.....*

    Sigur Ros
    My Bloody Valentine
    The Breeders
    The Dodos
    Cut Copy
    Laura Marling
    Gemma Hayes
    Franz Ferdinand
    Hercules and Love Affair
    Stephanie Dosen
    The Roots
    Dan Deacon
    Crystal Castles
    David Kitt
    Balanescu Quartet
    Juana Molina
    Martina Topley Bird
    Cathy Davey
    Conor Oberst
    Lisa Hannigan
    Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks
    Joan as Policewoman
    James Yorkston
    David Holmes
    Terry Callier
    Louise Rhodes
    New Young Pony Club
    The Congos
    Adrian Crowley
    Midnight Juggernauts
    Booka Shade
    The Presets
    The Herbaliser
    Nitin Sawhney
    Rachel Unthank & The Winter Set
    Josh Ritter
    Vivienne Long

    *updated July 21

    Fair enough it is too dear this year but I really can’t knock the line-up.


    As Oxegen looms I’m wishing I had the stomach to take all those puking, mud throwing, food dropping teenagers that it attracts. And for the same strange, music nerd urge that motivates all these posts, I feel the urge to deconstruct the Oxegen and Electric Picnic line ups!

    This year’s Oxegen line-up is definitely the best one I can remember.

    MCD obviously have a huge amount of money and the Oxegen approach says ‘forget about the scummy environment and feel the line up.’ The line up excels in bringing together some of the best mainstream rock bands in the world - REM, the Verve, the Raconteurs, Kings of Leon, Band of Horses, the National, Interpol, Manic Street Preachers.

    Two of the best new bands out there in the fantastic Vampire Weekend and Yeasayer and a few other next big/current big things with White Denim, Black Kids, MGMT. Plus Battles and Cat Power adding a bit of extra ‘alternative music scene’ quality.

    Its got a decent representation of dancey stuff - Justice, Hot Chip, Aphex Twin and Chemical Brothers, Go Team!

    Some of the best of Irish talent in there with Glen Hansard’s Swell Season and Bell XI

    All in all you’ve got about 30 quality acts in there with...

    Vampire Weekend
    The National
    My Morning Jacket
    Kings of Leon
    The Raconteurs
    Band of Horses
    Cat Power
    Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova
    The Verve
    Bell XI
    The Go! Team
    White Denim
    Black Kids
    Aphex Twin
    Hot Chip
    The Zutons
    Manic Street Preachers
    The Charlatans
    The Ting Tings
    Richard Hawley
    Chemical Brothers
    Roisin Murphy
    Holy Fuck
    Rage Against the Machine

    BUT the Electric Picnic lineup is much, much better than pretty much everyone I’ve talked seems to think it is. More on that in he next post.

    Sunday, June 15, 2008

    Future Days - Jape, Dan Deacon, Deerhunter.

    Fair play to the Foggy Notions peops for an excellent night at Vicar St on Saturday. Was going to the gig thinking, 'darn, i really should not be missing Fleet Foxes' but Jape was great fun. The only thing i'd heard from him before last night was the ubiquitous 'Floating' but he puts on a great show aided by that hilarious comedy moustache - photos on Nialler 9's blog.

    Downloaded Jape's new album Ritual from itunes this afternoon and its a breath of fresh air - brilliant - hard to categorise this guy - electrorock seems to be the term bandied about for him online - add pop to that and it just about works. Comparisons to Hot Chip and David Kitt are fair. There's a lot of humour and an unpretentous vibe but serious songwriting craft here too. Categories aside, there's lots of catchy tunes and Ritual has made me smile a good bit today. Oh and it feels like a Summer album so good timing.

    Dan Deacon lived up to the hype i've heard about his live gigs - i didn't know they were like going back to pre-school with running around the circle type 'exercises' though. Definitely helps loosen people up a bit!

    Deerhunter were excellent - hadn't heard any of their stuff before - they're like a mix of Animal Collective/Velvet Underground/Krautrock/Jesus and Mary Chain/BRMC/Sereena Maneesh.

    White Williams and High Places did nothing for me at all but 3 out of 5 is pretty good and at €22, the gig was great value.

    Thursday, June 5, 2008

    Electric Picnic More Acts Announced Tomorrow Maybe

    According to Jim Carroll, King of irish gig leak news and folks on the EP forum, Electric Picnic's organisers will announce a bunch of acts tomorrow.

    There's already a few crackin acts who've put the EP on their My Space page but haven't been announced by the festival organisers.

    Gemma Hayes
    Cut Copy
    Crystal Castles

    Saturday, May 31, 2008

    Fleet Foxes

    Jaw droppingly, scarily brilliant debut album coming out from these Fleet Foxes guys next week. They're streaming the whole album on my space.

    Big sixties influences - Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and Love at times. And for newer stuff, If you like Midlake, My Morning Jacket, Band of Horses, Devendra Banhart, Animal Collective, Bon Iver - you'll love this. On first listen, this album sounds better than anything all of the above have produced thus far but maybe i'm being a bit rash in my judgement.

    They play Whelan's in Dublin on June 14.

    Tuesday, April 8, 2008

    The Great White Hopes

    So as we enter the second quarter of the year, of all the newly trumpeted artists, who’s lived up to the hype?

    The one album from a new band that is as brilliant as the world and its wife’s music critics say it is, is Vampire Weekend. It's all been said - the songs might sound throwaway and trite at first, but they’re intricate and indispensable after a couple of listens. And they do sound like Paul Simon’s Graceland meets the Strokes or the Smiths. It's all true.

    The other stand out for me is Laura Marling’s Alas I Cannot Swim. It is absolutely bizarre that a teenager has delivered an album as accomplished and mature as this. Marling has been underhyped in the blogosphere, partly because she hasn’t got her album released in the US yet, but she's got a fair bit of coverage in the British music press. My impression of the scattering of British reviews I’ve read is that people are seriously underrating her. 'Alas' is a classic grower album, and while the initial impression for most people hearing it for the first time may well be. ‘hey, there’s nothing as catchy as the opener, ‘Ghosts’ on this',sticking with it really pays off . She’s not a million miles away from Beth Orton or earlier Joni Mitchell if you’re looking for comparisions. There's a real depth there.

    The American critics are getting worked up by this Bon Iver guy. In the rush to compare him to Iron & Wine and Bonnie Prince Billy, how come nobody’s mentioned John Martyn?! Fine album whoever he sounds like.

    Hercules and Love Affair’s debut is also worth the hype. And Foals' Antidotes didn’t blow me away but it is good - essentially Bloc Party's first album meets a bit of Fela Kuti meets early U2 though I’m sure they hate the last comparison.

    Goddamn, that's beautiful: 5 songs to stop you in your tracks.

    Four tracks from this year that made me think, ‘goddamn, that’s beautiful, I want to play that again and again’. Sadly only the Laura Marling one has an ‘official’ video. It is fab though.

    Restacks by Bon Iver

    Jesus wept, how gorgeous is this song?! Good album too, though nothing else touches this.

    Clowns by Goldfrapp
    Its like Kate Bush or the Cocteau Twins at their best (with really silly lyrics).

    Starlings by Elbow

    Some of the finest lyrics I’ve ever heard and a startlingly original arrangement.

    Go Slowly by Radiohead

    Thom Yorke’s vocals on this - bloody hell!

    Ghosts by Laura Marling

    From her debut Alas, I Cannot Swim

    Friday, March 28, 2008

    Electric Picnic Line Up: the Verdict

    Well, it strikes me as a good if not great line up to coin a dunphyism . Its about 7 or 8 acts short of being a great line up.

    The Positives

    Sigur Ros, Wilco , and MBV are on there and they’re three of my favourite bands ever. The new Goldfrapp album is super so she’s getting a special mention too.

    Pretty pleased to see the Breeders, Tindersticks, the Roots, Juana Molina, Balanescu Quartet, Lou Rhodes, Lisa Hannigan, Cathy Davey and Underworld there. And Franz Ferdinand even though its obviously not the done thing to admit to liking them anymore!

    The Negatives

    Would be interested to see if these Foals guys live up to the hype and Micah P Hinson too, but overall there seems to be a distinct lack of fresh new acts compared to previous years line-ups and quite a few acts in the 'I’ve never heard of them category' - One Day International, The Yard Dogs, Tobias Froberg, Boss Volenti, Dawn Landes, Constantines, Yacht, Lionheart Brothers, Large Mound, Emmy the Great, Kormac & the BSQ Band, Silver Apples. Nope, new to me.

    There are a few acts that fall into the well past their sell by date/not my cup of tea front on here too- most obviously Christy Moore, Sex Pistols, and George Clinton.

    What does the line-up need to go from good to great?

    So not naming acts that played last year, or acts playing at that hideous puking teenagers festival at punchestown, or those that don't have a new album to promote, who are we left with?

    Of course Portishead would be a pretty great start - the new album is excellent, they’ve still got it.

    And how about some quality indie fare? Panda Bear, Beirut, Patrick Watson, Elbow, Feist, Iron & Wine, Spoon, Tapes’n’Tapes, Midlake, Joanna Newsom, Martha Wainwright?

    Some good newish acts - Hercules and Love Affair, Vampire Weekend, Yeasayer, Laura Marling maybe?

    Nick Cave appearing with the bad seeds and playing his brilliant new album instead of the tedious bad joke that is the Grinderman’s oeuvre would help.

    Another quality dance act? Modeselektor, Field.

    Some hip hop? Del tha funky homespun, Dizee Rascal maybe?

    I'd like Kittser and Gemma Hayes in there too.

    Sunday, March 16, 2008

    Edan at the Tivoli

    Absolutely blown away by the Edan and Dagha gig in the Tivoli last night. Jaw droppingly brilliant. The gig was even better than recent Dublin performances from EL-P, Aesop Rock, and Talib Kweli. He's the best rapper on the planet for me. Here's a clip from a show he did last month at the Knitting factory in New York. Last night was pretty much like this.

    Good support from Irish hip hoppers the infomatics too and some quality DJ sets. All for about €22. Result.

    Wednesday, March 12, 2008

    Lisa Hannigan recording an album

    Great to hear Lisa Hannigan is in a recording studio working on an album. I'm sure I'm not alone in being willing to pay to hear this woman singing the phone book but I hope the material isn't too mellow. On the Damien Rice albums, she tended to sing the beautiful mellow bits and then Damo would move in to deliver his angry, angsty schtick.

    Tuesday, March 4, 2008

    Got my Edan ticket

    Really looking forward to the Edan and Dagha gig in the Tivoli, March 15.

    I wonder if it will be blessed with dancing like this though.

    Friday, February 22, 2008

    I'm seeing a President Obama now

    While i've been off sick, the Obama bashers have got increasingly desperate in their attempts to find bad things to say about him - the whole 'Obama's supporters resemble a spooky cult' argument is pathetic, then there's the Obama is a crazy left wing extremist argument - we're going to be seeing a lot more of that one. And finally, there's Hilary's he's all talk and no substance argument which isn't doing her any favours.

    Amazingly, Hilary's done now - stick a fork in her - there will be no Ohio/Texas comeback. And there's no doubt he can beat McCain - it might be close but its very possible.

    Meanwhile Obama's on fire - the most effective speech i've seen from him so far here in Wisconsin a few days ago.

    Thursday, February 7, 2008

    Obama: Yes, he can, maybe.

    It now looks like Obama has a chance of winning the Democratic nomination and the whole thing is going to go right down to the proverbial wire with the super delegates having the final say. But why is Obama the better choice than Clinton for those of a liberal/social democratic persuasion? Anthony Barnett has a good level headed article which sums up why this fairly pragmatic, centrist, and in some ways conservative man is the best option.

    Two of the obvious reasons are that it would be healthy to break the Bush-Clinton stranglehold on the presidency and to not give the Republicans a chance to rally around their favourite figures of hate - Hil and Bill - Republicans generally find it much harder to hate Obama.

    But Obama is not a liberal. He appears to be in that murky third way territory occupied by Bill Clinton and Blair before him. Tomasky nails it in a review of Obama’s Audacity of Hope calling him a civic republican and quoting Obama:

    ‘The victories that the sixties generation brought about—the admission of minorities and women into full citizenship, the strengthening of individual liberties and the healthy willingness to question authority—have made America a far better place for all its citizens. But what has been lost in the process, and has yet to be replaced, are those shared assumptions—that quality of trust and fellow feeling—that bring us together as Americans.’

    Elsewhere Obama has said:

    “I’m probably more humble now about the speed with which government programs can solve every problem. For example, I think the impact of parents and communities is at least as significant as the amount of money that’s put into education.”

    In a profile of Obama from Larissa MacFarquhar that featured in last years New Yorker - one of the more insightful articles I’ve read about him - she spends a lot of time emphasising Obama’s centrist, consensus seeking tendencies. And his pragmatic nature, she says:

    ‘Obama is deeply conservative. There are moments when he sounds almost Burkean. He distrusts abstractions, generalizations, extrapolations, projections. It’s not just that he thinks revolutions are unlikely: he values continuity and stability for their own sake, sometimes even more than he values change for the good.’

    I think for non-Americans, the biggest reason to hope Obama wins is his stance on International affairs. His views on Iraq make a lot of us hope his presidency would see a more decisive shift away from loopy neoconservatism than Clinton’s would. This quote from Obama in 2002 is a pretty good advertisement for his presidency so.

    "I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power. He has repeatedly defied UN resolutions, thwarted UN inspection teams, developed chemical and biological weapons, and coveted nuclear capacity. He's a bad guy. The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him.

    But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors, that the Iraqi economy is in shambles, that the Iraqi military a fraction of its former strength, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history. I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a US occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of Al Qaeda. I am not opposed to all wars. I'm opposed to dumb wars.’

    Saturday, February 2, 2008

    Radiohead on Jools Holland Last Night

    The greatest band in the world play the best song released last year. In a word, fantastic.

    Friday, February 1, 2008

    Facebook’s Dark Side

    Today, a friend of mine put me wise to some seriously unpalatable facts about Facebook. Briefly, here’s the deal before i break it down. There's a video link which covers a lot of what i'm going to say below if you don't want to read me blathering on.

    1. Facebook’s main mover Peter Thiel is an odious neoconservative.

    2. Facebook’s got some seriously dodgy sounding investors with links to the CIA.

    3. Facebook make it really difficult for you to delete your data from their site

    1. Facebook’s main mover Peter Thiel is an odious neoconservative.

    The following may sound longwinded but it is a summary of Tom Hodgkinson’s very long (but excellent) article in the Guardian. Hodgkinson says

    ‘Thiel is a member of TheVanguard.Org, an internet-based neoconservative pressure group that was set up to attack, a liberal pressure group that works on the web.’


    ‘This little taster from their website will give you an idea of their vision for the world: "TheVanguard.Org is an online community of Americans who believe in conservative values, the free market and limited government as the best means to bring hope and ever-increasing opportunity to everyone, especially the poorest among us." Their aim is to promote policies that will "reshape America and the globe". TheVanguard describes its politics as "Reaganite/Thatcherite". The chairman's message says: "Today we'll teach MoveOn [the liberal website], Hillary and the leftwing media some lessons they never imagined."

    I don't have time to go into how much of the above is stomach churningly offensive but the bit about the free market and limited government being the best means to help the poor is particularly yuch.

    2. Facebook’s got some seriously dodgy sounding investors with links to the CIA.

    Hodgkinson goes on to reveal that Greylock Venture Capital have invested $27.5m in Facebook. One of Greylock’s senior partners is Howard Cox who’s on the board of In-Q-Tel. Now, In-Q-Tel is the venture capital wing of the CIA. No really - look, it says so on their site. Also part of In-Q-Tel is Anita K Jones, former director of defence research and engineering for the US department of defence.

    3. Facebook makes it really difficult for you to delete your data from their site and doesn’t care about your privacy.

    you’ll need a guide on how to do delete your data, if you wish to do so - here it is essentially it’s a hack because Facebook don’t want you to delete your data. I don't really understand this because their terms tell you they've backed your data up so even if you do delete, they have, in google style, backed up your info anyhow.

    Now most Facebook users will be aware that Facebook uses the personal details on your account to target you with tailored advertising - and I guess their reluctance is related to that.

    Finally, read the part in their terms and conditions section that none of us read when we signed up and ask yourself if you feel comfortable with it.

    ‘By posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute such User Content for any purpose, commercial, advertising, or otherwise, on or in connection with the Site or the promotion thereof, to prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such User Content, and to grant and authorize sublicenses of the foregoing. You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time. If you choose to remove your User Content, the license granted above will automatically expire, however you acknowledge that the Company may retain archived copies of your User Content. ‘

    Thursday, January 31, 2008

    What have the unions ever done for us?

    Seeing as Life of Brian is my favourite comedy and I'm a newly appointed trade union committee member, i would like this, wouldn't i?

    Bye bye Rudy!

    Good to see an end to Giuliani's campaign last night. Check out this disgusting fearmongering campaign message if you need a reminder why.

    And must say I am dissapointed and surprised Edwards didn't endorse Obama in his bowing out speech. Can't wait for Super Tuesday. The illogical part of my brain is still hoping Obama can work a miracle.

    Tuesday, January 29, 2008

    Cherry Ghost

    Another one that i didn't get around to last year - Cherry Ghost, whose debut album, Thirst for Romance reminds me of Doves, Richard Hawley, Elbow and Oasis mixed with a US alt country influence - although i can't see the Wilco comparisions most reviews have mentioned.

    I particularly adore 'People Help the People' though - this is the kind of track Noel Gallagher would sell his granny for - shameless, sentimental, big chorus, stadium anthem stuff. A classic.

    People Help the People, Cherry Ghost

    Cat Power Jukebox

    First super album of 2008 - predictably - Cat Power's Jukebox. She's done it again. Superb stuff. Its still got that late night, bluesy soul thing that the Greatest had but a little rockier in places. Who else could cover New York, New York and not sound like a twat?

    A couple of Mp3s from the album are available on the Matador site.

    Monday, January 28, 2008

    Stephanie Dosen

    If you don't like sensitive female singer songwriter schtick, look away now.

    Stephanie Dosen sounds like Harriet Wheeler from the Sundays only smoother. Her folky american songs could be described as Joanna Newsom-lite but that would be a bit harsh. There's some excellent songs on the album and her voice is pretty superb. Ok its all a little lilith fair and terribly tasteful but she is good.

    Her debut album is called A Lily for the Spectre.

    And here she is on Jools Holland, which is where i first heard her. Jools returns for a new series on friday with his 200th show and a lineup that includes Radiohead, Feist and Cat Power. Jools, you had me at Radiohead!

    Tuesday, January 15, 2008

    Aesop Rock - The One That Got Away

    A little bit of unfinished business from last year's Top 50 albums of the year. The major omission was Aesop Rock - None Shall Pass - a hip hop masterpiece - not a bad track on this record.

    Aesop Rock, video for album title track - None Shall Pass

    He plays Crawdaddy on February 2.