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August 30, 2007

Reading: Saturday and Sunday

Follow-up to Reading: Friday from Esprit de l'escalier

Saturday

We started late on Saturday after a boat ride down the Thames to fetch some beer. The first band we saw were the Shins, of unsubtle plug in Garden State fame. Apparently they’ll change your life. They sounded alright but I’m not converted yet.

Young Knives were pretty good, refreshing my memory of last summer’s hits. Thanks to backpacking and not have a radio in my room, my keeping track of new music has been a bit slack the past year. I thought I would have heard more of the current big thing Pigeon Detectives before I saw them, but I only managed to recognise two songs. The rest of the crowd were certainly au fait and the atmosphere in the NME tent was great.

I think I saw some of the Tokyo Police Club but they obviously made no impression on me. Bloc Party had the tunes and were basically flawless but they didn’t really offer anything special so I got distracted by teenagers on piggyback getting stuff thrown at them by angry people behind them. And the bar.

Arcade Fire were one of the highlights of the weekend with what are now bona fide anthems and their insane percussion section. The sunset halfway through their set was a nice touch.

We Are Scientists are in many ways like Jimmy Eat World with their epic, vaguely indie rock and the fact they are well underrated. While everyone was getting to the Main Stage for the Chilis, I went up to the relatively sparse NME Tent to catch the Californian three-piece. The set was half a showcase for the last album and half a bunch of new songs, which are sounding promising. The only problem was I couldn’t hear their whimsical banter between songs.

I caught six songs of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, only one of which I’d heard before – that shit Hey Oh one. What Hits? indeed. Saw a bit of Hot Hot Heat, who were decent enough.

Sunday

This is how out of the new music loop I am. I own not one album by a band who were playing on the Sunday. It was a good opportunity to flit between the Carling and NME stages to take in some random bands and see what all this New Rave fuss was about.

Pull Tiger Tail were good. Hadouken! were better. Ben, the lucky get, found some chump’s unused VIP pass lying on the ground so went to watch the band from backstage alongside folk from the Klaxons, CSS and the NME.

New Young Pony Club did exactly what it says on the tin: they were new, they were young, and they were pony. The only memorable part of the Operator Please set was when NME editor Conor McNicholas walked past me, and it turns out he’s quite short! If someone like him can get into a position of power, there’s hope for me yet.

After missing Kubichek! every time they played live when I was in Newcastle, I finally saw them and they were rather frenetic. Cold War Kids and Devendra Banhart were up next and they were probably the most impressive of the weekend’s “new” music. At first I thought CWK’s singer sounded like James Walsh out of Starsailor, but then it transpired that he was from the States, so he’s allowed to sing in that accent. Banhart wasn’t inaccessibly quirky as I’d been lead to believe though at one point he took the unusual step of bringing some “random” members of the crowd on stage to sing a song.

Former Ash guitarist Charlotte Hatherley was looking and sounding good. We saw about half of CSS who were enjoyable enough before heading over to see Seasick Steve, a grizzled old slide guitarist playing some swampy delta blues. Completely anachronistic at Reading, but brilliant. Everyone was chanting “Seasick! Seasick!” between songs and he said that made a nice change from “Steve-o! Steve-o!” which he got at his last gig. Of course, everyone took this as a cue to start chanting “Steve-o!” which was a bit harsh on the kindly old man, but he was a good sport.

LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy doesn’t look like he should be fronting a hip dance-rock outfit. A session drummer at best, maybe. I might buy their latest critically-acclaimed album, but I was slightly put off by their set-closer, the lyrics to which are “yeah” ad infinitum. And Daft Punk Is Playing In My House needs more cowbell.

We decided to be poncey and buy some Thai food then returned to see the NME Tent’s headliners the Klaxons. It seemed like if you didn’t have a glowstick you weren’t getting in, so we tried to listen from outside, but the strains of the Smashing Pumpkins drifting over from the Main Stage got in the way of the New Rave so we cut our losses and went to end the festival at the Silent Disco.


August 29, 2007

Reading: Friday

Follow-up to Reading 2007 from Esprit de l'escalier

This is who I saw:

First, I went to check out the Pipettes on the Main Stage. Maybe I wasn’t in the mood for bubblegum pop with a 60s twist, or maybe they were just irritating.

Then it was the Sounds on the NME/Radio 1 Stage. Swedish purveyors of power pop with a stone-cold, and foul-mouthed, fox for a lead singer. I was impressed.

Back we went to the Main Stage for the Long Blondes, who offered the winning combination of cracking songs off Someone To Drive You Home and the presence of the singer Kate Jackson, whom I quite fancy. As a bonus, I had the revelation that the intro to Giddy Stratospheres sounds just like the one for the Dead 60s’ Riot Radio.

Hirsute gypsy punks Gogol Bordello were up next and they were madder than a badger in spats. Very enjoyable songs featuring such lyrics as “Have you ever been to an American wedding; where’s the vodka, where’s marinated herring?” [note: it helps if this is sung in a Ukrainian accent]

We ducked out during Start Wearing Purple to catch who I’m now told are called the Blood Red Shoes (as opposed to the Red Shoe Diaries). Yet another rock outfit fronted by a hottie, but pretty forgettable.

After that we went to the Alternative Stage for a sit down, and semi-famous comic Tim Minchin just happened to be starting. He was surprisingly good; think the campness of Eddie Izzard and the piano skills of Bill Bailey, with an Australian accent. I particularly liked his song about the failed rock star because I got the joke before the end.

The rest of the day was a no-brainer: the Main Stage had big name acts up the Ying Yang, starting with the band who kick-started the Emo craze (though I don’t hold that against them), Jimmy Eat World. They played a blinder of a set, with all the classics off Bleed American. I haven’t seen them since Leeds ’02 and frontman Jim has got a bit podgy. He reminded me of Matt Parkman out of Heroes.

Between bands the announcement by the hapless compere that Razorlight would be headlining that evening was met with boos. Wow, they’ve come a long way.

Maximo Park were a bit disappointing, playing far too many slow songs off the new album, and no Limassol or A Fortnight’s Time. Paul Smith’s wackiness got a bit too much and seemed to be trying to introduce each song in an even more baffling way than the last. He might want to learn some self-awareness. And how to devise a good set list.

I finally saw Interpol and they were little more than really, really cool. I got pretty close for the Kings of Leon who were brilliant, as expected. A few songs off the new album had the cigarette lighters out, so the crowd wasn’t as physically intense as it could have been. Still, I wouldn’t have liked to be wearing flip flops.

The boys from Tennessee departed and the chants of “fuck Razorlight” began. As you may know, I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with Borrell and his band. It’s like this: I know they’ve got shit, but I can’t help enjoying their second album. So I retreated far enough to avoid the true fans but remained close enough to indulge in my guilty pleasure. Five songs in, Johnny Borrell’s histrionics got too much so I went to find the others and watched a nice but dull Albert Hammond Jr. of Strokes fame in the Carling Tent. Holly, if you’re reading this, what did your text about Razorlight say again?

We avoided the mass exodus by hiding in the empty Lock-Up Stage where Jimmy Eat World had been playing again and Officer Parkman, the lovely guy that he is, was chatting to his fans. Also there we saw TV’s Rob Rouse!

Shit, I’ve written loads, and I’m only a third through. More tomorrow, hopefully.


June 30, 2007

For Fopp's sake!

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/6252300.stm

Dark days for us music, film and book fans. Fopp, the best music retailer in the country, has closed its stores as it goes into administration. It did all seem a little too good to be true – offering as it did an excellent range of books, CDs and DVDs at reasonable prices. Where are we supposed to go now?

Supermarkets and online retailers are being blamed for all of this. So it seems my support for CD-Wow (an enticing £7.99 for a chart CD compared to £10 at Fopp) in their dispute with the BPI has been counter-productive. Damn.


June 01, 2007

I couldn’t let it lie

American slang is cool. I go out of my way to call women “broads” and twats “douche bags”. But that’s all harmless fun – what I can’t stand is when the very foundations of our beautiful language become sullied by Americanisms. I frequently hear Britons use American English words when there are vastly superior British equivalents to hand. Common examples of this include “apartment”, “SUV” and “you do the math”. The number one offender, however, is the use of the word “lay”, when it should be “lie”.

As free newspapers go, I have a lot of time for The London Paper – as commuter fluff, there isn’t a lot I’d change apart from have their street vendors shout “read all about it!” like loveable urchins. But yesterday my esteem for them took a dive when I turned to page 2, and saw this caption as part of “24 hrs in pictures”:

A Filipino bus driver lays [sic] dead as police investigate the scene after a robbery in Quezon City.

There looks like there’s a word missing. Lays dead what? Lays dead flowers? Lays out the dead? Oh, it’s the driver himself who’s dead. London Paper, I think you’ll find he lies dead. Who writes this? I hope it’s an American intern or something because I’d despair if this is the standard of British journalism you expect the public to stand for these days.

What is more alarming is that even quality musicians are susceptible to this gross linguistic error. Take The Libertines’ 2002 swear-fest, What A Waster, an almost brilliant song let down by this howler:

I was laying [sic] in bed paying my rent
Knocking on the door for something
That she lent her brother

Surprisingly, it’s been going on since the early seventies, when David Bowie sang this line in Queen Bitch:

So I lay [sic] down a while and gaze at my hotel wall

Maybe I just have to accept that rock and pedantry don’t mix. After all, we have to turn to the calculatingly bland Snow Patrol and last year’s transatlantic hit Chasing Cars for the correct grammar:

If I lay here
If I just lay here
Would you lie with me and just forget the world?

At first glance, of course, it appears that young Lightbody is committing the very sin that his more illustrious forebears grievously committed. However, those “If”s turn the present tense into the subjunctive, so it’s correct to use “lay”. Indeed, he sings “lie” in the conditional in that third line, as if to demonstrate his command of (British) English.

So, just to reiterate: it’s “lie”, as in “I won’t take this lying down”.


March 31, 2007

Shameless

While passing the time in London the other day (I was down for a job interview – well, an internship interview, to be exact) I found myself in Waterstones flicking through this month’s Arena. It had a feature on that zeitgeist favourite, guilty pleasures.

It’s an interesting phenomenon – liking something despite it not being (in the case of music) cool – and one which the London-centric media have attributed to the club night, Guilty Pleasures, which seems to be identical to the Skool Dayz phenomenon but with a little more originality (I imagine they wouldn’t play Don’t Stop Me Now, for example) and without the paedophilia connotations (i.e. grown men sharking grown women dressed as children). The night’s organisers have apparently done something noteworthy recently, which has merited several articles in the press (Arena’s and in yesterday’s Guardian).

I think it’s easy for people to confuse GPs with the so-bad-it’s-good phenomenon. But when I watch a film that’s SBIG I derive my pleasure through ironic amusement, by mocking its makers. In contrast my enjoyment of a guilty pleasure is malice-free. I may not get any kudos from my peers for it, but I genuinely appreciate the entertainment as it was intended. There’s no doubt a grey area though; do I like Razorlight because of Johnny Borrell’s shit lyrics, or his guileless bombast?

The thing with guilty pleasures is the fact that having them requires a certain degree of snobbery in the first place. For example, someone who likes the Twang and suffers no accompanying sense of shame is forbidden by logic from having any musical guilty pleasures.

The Arena article, which gave various examples of GPs, from female celebrities to everyday activities, was fairly spot-on with its criteria, though I disagreed with many of their selections. They certainly got Dire Straits, bacon fat and Katie Melua right though. I would have added Dan Brown books and, of course, reading men’s magazines in shops and not buying them.

In an attempt to get some comments, but at the risk of sounding like a local radio DJ: go on then, what are your guilty pleasures?

[sits back and waits for some wag to come up with “your mum”]


March 19, 2006

Competition Time

As you know, the most important youth movement since the mods and the rockers has been quiet-loudly taking over the nation's streets. By cunningly blending the goth, punk and skater styles, our disaffected children have formed some kind of super-subculture, and their boring, overblown tales of teenage woe threaten to tear apart the fabric of decent society. I am of course talking about Emo. What makes the credo of these malnourished solipsists even more subversive is when you call something Emo "Emo", they claim "that isn't actually Emo". Man, that postmodern shit blows our square minds!

To pay tribute to the genre, on Competition Time this week… actually, let's make it month, I want your best Emo band names. Here are some examples of such bands which already exist:

  • My Chemical Romance
  • Bullet For My Valentine
  • My Awesome Compilation
  • Drive By Argument (which must only be said when one has a cold)
  • and, of course, My Myspace Photo

The winner gets my collection of Emo records.


February 13, 2006

First Impressions… of Whatever You Say I Am… – A study of NME hype

2001 was a great year. Maybe not for world politics but certainly for music. The Strokes and their debut album gave the UK's music scene a much needed kick up the arse, mired as we were in nu-metal, R&B and post-Radiohead bedwetting guitar pop. They were also the first modern example of what is now a given in today's music industry: the NME's favourite band. Since that wonderful summer many art-punk-funk-rock bands have been cursed/blessed by this accolade: the White Stripes, the Datsuns, the Hives, the Vines, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the Libertines, Franz Ferdinand, Jet, Razorlight, Kasabian, the Killers, Kaiser Chiefs, Bloc Party, Babyshambles and now – possibly more famously so than all who went before them combined – Arctic Monkeys.

It just so happens that both the Strokes and the Monkeys had albums released last month, so I'm going to review them both in one blog. Unfortunately, the squares at Warwick Blogs don't have a facility to do such a radical thing, so you're not going to get any pretty star ratings, links to amazon.co.uk or pictures of the album covers here. You're not missing much though: First Impressions Of Earth is adorned by a dodgy red and grey graphic and Whatever You Say I Am That's What I'm Not has a random guy smoking in monochrome. Anyway, it's not about the covers. It's about the music.

So, the Strokes. As I said, Is This It was a breath of fresh air back in its day and still packs a punch five years on. Room On Fire is typically considered to have got a lukewarm reception, but this ain't how I remember it. It got 4 star reviews, then after a few months the hype subsided - then people started dissing it. But I quite liked it. Definitely not as good as the debut, but it wasn't bad. A bit similar to ITI but they did try new stuff.

So everyone was expecting a return to form with FIOE. I was convinced by Juicebox: it was a meatier sound compared to the raw production of the previous material and an assured floor-filler. The main criticism this time is not sameyness but overproduction - by trying to conquer their home market, it's like they've been forced to go MOR and make the album too long, ergo critical panning. There are some cracking songs on it: You Only Live Once sounds like the best bits of ROF boiled down, the aforementioned Juicebox, new single Heart In A Cage, and the melodramatic Vision Of Division. It then goes a bit wanky halfway through ("I've got nothing to say" repeats Julian ad nauseum on Ask Me Anything, and he's right), but picks up with Fear Of Sleep, which they clearly wrote before Johnny Cash died in the hope that he would cover it, the Poguesesque 15 Minutes, and the ridiculously poppy Ize Of The World. If they were being true to themselves instead of their wallets – and if they had their original producer – the filler would be jettisoned and we'd have a leaner album to rival their debut. Four stars.

It seems very cool these days to slag off anyone who's championed by the NME as the next big thing. I think this only caught on after ROF turned out to be not as great as the reviews made out. Since then, people have been quick to criticise any band that is given hype – and it's never long before the NME picks up on this public sentiment and mercilessly knocks down the bands that they'd originally built up. If lucky, these bands have gone mainstream already so they don't need to worry about sales anyway (see the Killers/Kaiser Chiefs).

There's much that separates Arctic Monkeys from their predecessors: the main one being success. Already their first single went straight in at number one and their album is the fastest selling debut in UK history. This and the whole myspace thing has given them instant renown in wider British society – most people probably hadn't heard of the Libertines until Pete Doherty started getting arrested. And whereas all the NME's previous best bands ever have clearly taken their influences from the Kinks, the Smiths, 70s art-punk and 80s new-wave, they seem to be the first band who could easily have taken all their influences from post-Strokes indie. I think the NME said something about them being the pinnacle of the 00s revolution of guitar pop, distilling all the best bits of the past five years – the Strokes' raw sound, Franz Ferdinand/Bloc Party's funk-punk, the Libertines' witty snapshots of British life, and, of course, the regional accents of the Futureheads/Maximo Park.

Not only have they taken in the sound of the last five years, the Arctic Monkeys have taken into account the prevailing attitude of the indie music market. They've seen what hype does and have tried everything to avoid becoming its victims, exorting MTV viewers not to believe it at the start of their ...Dancefloor video, deflecting criticism with their album title, and dissing NME-reading scenesters in Fake Tales Of San Francisco. By sounding like everything the NME loves while distancing themselves from the magazine's pernicious influence, it's like they've tried to get everyone onside - even the bedwetters are catered for on the Athlete-alike Riot Van.

As a result, they're really popular. And indirectly because of that, I really want to hate them. Not because I'm a reverse NME snob, but more because it's impossible to get tickets to their gigs. They're also irritatingly young, which makes me feel old, and they're arrogant – but when did that matter when the music's spot on? It's unfortunate that by being on the receiving end of the most intense hype I've seen, they'll have further to fall when the inevitable backlash happens. If the hype weren't there, there wouldn't be such a polarisation of opinion, interest would be less intense and would last longer, and I would be able to get a gig ticket. Of course, the NME would sell fewer copies, but fuck 'em. Four stars, by the way.


December 18, 2005

2005: a year in music and film and other stuff

This is my End of Year Review, incorporating the esteemed Esprit de l'escalier awards. What a year it's been; there have been highs and lows, heroes and villains, disasters and miracles, births, marriages, deaths and more cliches and padding than you can shake a stick at. Let's crack on with the awards:

Best Film

Special Mention must go to The 40 Year Old Virgin for not being half as bad as I thought it would be. But my Six Of The Best are:
6. Martin Scorsese's Dylan documentary, No Direction Home. Fascinating, with brilliant music (naturally) and hilarious press conferences.
5. Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story. Like an episode of Family Guy but four times as long. What's not to like? Best line:

Robot Brian: I am a tool. Stewie is much better than me at everything including arts & crafts and playing the guitar. I have no friends.

4. Batman Begins. Awesome. Made you forget all about the shit last one.
3. Steve Zissou's The Life Aquatic. Wes Anderson + a great cast = film heaven.
2. Downfall. Intense. And not really that sympathetic to Hitler.

But the winner is:
1. Wallace & Gromit in The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit. Faultless.

Best Album

A very tough category to judge. A hell of a lot of decent albums came out this year. As much as I liked the offerings from We Are Scientists, Art Brut and Kaiser Chiefs, they are a bit fun, and as you very well know, being fun immediately stops a band's album being truly great. And though I bought and grew to love it this year, The Kings Of Leon's album came out last year so that disqualifies it. The resulting Six Of The Best are:
6. Franz Ferdinand – You Could Have It So Much Better. They're lucky to be on the list what with being painfully mainstream now. When I bought it on Amazon, they recommended Robbie Williams and Katie Melua, which made me recoil in horror. Favourite track: You're The Reason I'm Leaving.
5. Gorillaz – Demon Days. Despite being cartoons, I wouldn't describe them as fun in the Kaiser sense, which is why they are on the list. Favourite track: Dare.
4. Bloc Party – Silent Alarm. Probably the unfunnest band (with a good album released this year) you could name, so naturally a shoo-in for the list. Favourite track: Plans, the one with the Television-style instrumental.
3. Sons & Daughters – The Repulsion Box. Rockabilly + Scottish accents = musical heaven. Favourite track: Rama Lama.
2. Arcade Fire – Funeral. Believe the hype. Favourite track: Rebellion (Lies).

Interestingly, for each of the above 5, it took me a few listens to really get into. This appears to be the test of a truly great album. However, the winner grabbed me immediately and refused to let go – countless plays later and it has lost none of its charm. Plus, the band are from the North-East, so of course I'm biased. The winner:
1. Maximo Park – A Certain Trigger. Favourite track: probably Limassol.

Best TV

TV's always difficult to judge. This year I've enjoyed Lost, Peep Show, Curb Your Enthusiasm (when I've been in to watch it), Nathan Barley, Dick And Dom In Da Bungalow, Scrubs, Family Guy (the few episodes of the new series that I've seen), and more recently The Daily Show and The Late Edition. But the two awards – best UK and best international – go to:

  • The Mighty Boosh (UK). Simply put, better than the first series and it came out really quick.
  • Daily repeats of Seinfeld on Paramount (International). Best. Sitcom. Ever. And no, I don't think that is a cop-out.

Those we have lost this year

No awards show would be complete without a run-down of people who have died and will be sadly missed. 2005 said goodbye to:
Revolutionary comic, Richard Pryor
Revolutionary journalist and writer, Hunter S Thompson
Playwright and lucky, lucky man, Arthur Miller
Two reasons why the Tories have overtaken Labour as the Cool party in recent months: Robin Cook and Mo Mowlam.

But the Best Dead Person award goes to:
Ronnie Barker!
Unfortunately, Ronnie couldn't be here to collect his Esprit de l'escalier gong and luxury goodie bag, but [insert hilarious Barker-style gag here. See, that's why we'll miss him so]!

Other awards were handed out on the night. The Guardian unsurprisingly went away with Best Newspaper; Best Degree Course went to Politics; Best Government Agency is the Rural Payments Agency; Best City, Newcastle upon Tyne; and Best Town, Leam. Join me again this time next year when I'll be reviewing 2006. Good night.


September 18, 2005

Working all the time, work is such a bind

One reason why I'm unemployed. I've had lots of ideas for blogs recently but unfortunately they haven't seen the light of day yet. I blame bad light. So, out of all the things I could write, I've wheeled out the tired old fill-in-the-gaps new music 'review'.

First up, Bloc Party have done a Razorlight and are releasing an ostensible stand-alone single which will probably end up on a reissue of the album: Two More Years. It sounds like Placebo. No, seriously – listen! (Especially the intro and the bit after the chorus.)

Maximo Park, meanwhile, have done a Kaiser Chiefs/Dead 60s by rereleasing Apply Some Pressure, much to my purist annoyance. I accept that they should release another single but, "Why not The Coast Is Always Changing, you bastards?!" as you may have heard me yell in vain at the radio earlier this week. "Because it was released last November, you johnny-come-lately", the answer turns out to be. Still, I don't think it justifies a reissue of ASP after only 8 months. The question is will it get overplayed to the point of me hating it, like I Predict A Riot was? Any suggestions for a less infuriating choice of single? I Want You To Stay, perhaps.

Whistling has been unfairly overlooked as a credible musical instrument in the past, with only The Good, The Bad And The Ugly theme springing to mind. However, I predict a long overdue resurgence. For not only have Sons and Daughters done a thinly-veiled tribute to the aforementioned tune on their album, but there's a song by Bob Sinclar doing the rounds with a really infectious whistling part. I'm whistling it now, as you will all be soon enough. If, like me, you listen to Radio 1 too much, that is.

Hard Fi have been busy carving out their niche as the optimistic Ordinary Boys. With its rousing intro, Living For The Weekend reminds you of the title track to Over The Counterculture, then, rather than addressing the banality of twenty-first century life with a nihilistic cynicism, the song descends into an insipid whinge about how much better the weekend is than a crap job. Remember last year's dance smash, Narcotic Thrust's I Like It? Well, this is its equally risible indie-rock alter-ego.

Talking of white reggae, Dodgy Singer-Songwriter Of The Month this month is ex-Take That fat dancer, Robbie Williams. None of us could have predicted the bizarreness of his last effort Radio to be outdone, but he's only gone and done it, by turning into Sting and the Police on Tripping. It's uncanny.


August 30, 2005

Reading Festival, part the first

Not the Reading Festival unfortunately, but merely a reading festival, thanks to a bit of a cock-up at ebay.

Still, there happened to be some decent bands playing and thanks to them, some excellent company, fine wine and bad food, I had an awesome weekend.

This is what I made of the weekend's more memorable bands, if I could only remember it…

Friday

Do Me Bad Things, first up on the main stage, did me bad things, to my ears. Nah, they were alright. Yourcodenameis:milo taught me the important lesson of never assuming that just because the band is from where you're from they're gonna be any good. Graham Coxon put Happiness In Magazines on my YAATB* list. We Are Scientists performed a similar feat for their album. The Coral, whose first three albums I proudly possess, didn't. I finally saw Queens Of The Stone Age who didn't disappoint. Rather than pushing out of the crowd afterwards only to push back in later on, we suffered The Killers, whom I don't think are that bad, though I can see where the current backlash is coming from. Headlining were the Pixies. Like when I saw them at V last year, I still only have Doolittle, so I probably could've enjoyed their set even more than I did, which was a lot. More YAATBs.

Saturday

I blessed The Cribs and Nirvana tribute act Nine Black Alps with my presence because I liked their singles. Neither are quite YAATB material though, yet. Arctic Monkeys, however, were very impressive. Having failed to heed the ravings of people like Jimmy, I was overwhelmed by how big their following already is, judging by the Carling Tent crowd going mental. The Charlatans provided good background music to mid-afternoon chilling out in the middle of a field. Westbrook's favourite, Hot Hot Hot were great. The Arcade Fire were better, but then again, I know their songs. I spent most of Kings Of Leon trying to find the others in the middle of the main stage crowd, but generally very ace. Foo Fighters were pretty much the reason for Ben, Milly and Shall to be at the festival so I was relatively unexcited. They turned out to be brilliant.

Sunday

I'd been given conflicting accounts of the joke-bandness of Art Brut - famous, of course for We Formed A Band, their joke song which features little of what you'd call actual singing - so I thought I'd see for myself. They are essentially a joke band, yet good, and potential recipients of my 8.75, c/o CD WOW. Saw some of The Rakes but missed their probably-now-legendary special guest fest to see some of VHS Or Beta, so was a bit annoyed. Sons and Daughters writhed their way through an excellent half-hour of indie-rockabilly, their Scottish accents unfortunately reminding me of the Proclaimers. YAATB. If there was one band I certainly wasn't going to miss, it was Maximo Park. They, as you'd expect, were awesome. Frontman Paul Smith is a mentalist, and was a bit overhumble. I had a Bart Simpson "that's only 4 miles from my house!" moment when they played a new song, A19. Caught the last half of Iggy and the Stooges, who were a bit underwhelming. Incubus then performed Sunday's Charlatans role and were, on the whole, whelming. We then saw a bit of cabaret by a young lady called Marilyn Manson, who was dressed as a goth, which, as everybody knows, is hot. Her set comprised mainly of showtunes and covers of well-known hits from the 80s. Unfortunately for the Futureheads (whom I've seen before anyway), and Iron Maiden (whom I haven't seen before but meh), we went to see Mylo instead. I'd never been to see a live 'dance' act before, so it was quite the experience. He was very good and made another addition to the YAATB list. To round off a spiffing and, indeed, spaffing weekend in style, were The Bloc Party.

*Yet Another Album To Buy


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