Sunday, 28 March 2004

40 things every drunkard should do before they die

The always brilliant Modern Drunkard Magazine have counted down the 40 things every drunkard should do before they die.

I'm proud and a bit sad to admit that I've done several of them.

"10.) Extravagantly overtip a bartender.
The next time a bartender is especially kind or proficient, lay a massive tip on her. I mean, massive. You must be relatively sober or they’ll discount the act as drunken foolishness. Say something smooth like, “You’re the best of your kind,” drop the bomb, and—this is important—walk out of the bar without another word. With this single act of unexpected generosity, you will restore a bartender’s faith in humanity and give your own self-image a healthy boost."


Monday, 22 March 2004

Album Review: Sleep No More

Not much is known about DJ Signify, something that can only be attributed to the highly reclusive career he’s led up to this point. Until now, he has released two stunning mix tapes, Signifyin Breaks and Mixed Messages, Signify also contributed to Anticon’s controversial, Music for the Advancement of Hip Hop compilation.

Sleep No More is an extension of his mixtape work and an expedition into dark, industrial production, so much so that the album is sold as the soundtrack to an imaginary horror movie. It’s hip-hop at its darkest and most chilling. While it isn’t quite the terrifying affair the press release makes out, it does have a twisted, almost psychotic edge.

Along with his two unlikely henchmen, Sage Francis and Buck 65, Signify embarks on a desolate journey through eerie loops, stark drums, and timely scratching, all seamlessly threaded into one unique whole. While Sleep No More is ostensibly a full-length album, it plays a lot more like a mix tape than a conventional LP, essentially meaning that you need to experience the piece in its entirety. As hard as that may be to grasp, there is something quite enchanting about Sleep No More; both in its scope and execution that provides a sense of accomplishment for the creator and the listener.

However, the album mystifies and frustrates in equal measure. When Signify sticks to instrumentals, Sleep No More wanders aimlessly, as on the disconcerting Shatter & Splatter and the head splitting Migraine. Elsewhere, Dirty chugs along without any real direction. In fact of the instrumental tracks, only opener Fly Away and the three parts of the Pee-A-Boo trilogy are engaging enough to warrant further investigation – especially Part II where the album finally erupts in a fit of clever beats and turntablism. Unfortunately, its might is such that is makes the surrounding tracks sound a bit sparse.

The album is aided immeasurably by the vocal signposts that are expertly supplied by Buck 65 and Sage Francis. Frankly, all but the most resilient minds will find the human interaction welcoming. The contrasting styles of the two narrators lend themselves well to the instrumentation. Buck 65 is constantly stumbling on the tempo while Francis offers more elegantly classic diction. However, both supply interesting nuances to Signify’s grey landscapes. Buck’s dark tale of a desolate motel on Stranded makes it a menacing proposition, “the bathroom was crawling with roaches and beetles / the sign above the toilet said ‘don’t flush your needles.” His somewhat enervated drawl on Winter’s Going and Where Did She Go make those two of the stronger tracks. While more energetic, Sage Francis is no less meticulous in his delivery. His accounts on Kiddie Litter and Haunted House Party spare no detail and help to morph Sleep No More into the horror movie it was intended to be.

This is not an easy record to listen to. Sleep No More unveils its personality with time, and requires repeated listens for one to fully appreciate its scope. DJ Signify has crafted an intriguing and stylish piece of work which unfortunately loses sight of its substance too often. It’s an expansive album that definitely improves with every listen, but at over an hour in length, few will have the patience to discover what lurks in its dark corners.

Life with Chris Rock's phone number

A really funny account of a girl who, by complete chance, ends up having Chris Rock's old mobile phone number.

"LAURA: Hello?

CALLER: Is Chris there?

LAURA: [Inquires politely] Who's calling?

CALLER: It's Spike.

LAURA: [Mischievously inquisitive] From...?

CALLER: [Blurts out, annoyed] It's Spike Lee.

LAURA: [Momentarily stunned and speechless] Uh... well... actually... you have the wrong number."

It's a fun story, but disappointing to hear that Jerry Seinfeld acted like such a prick.


Friday, 19 March 2004

List of fonts used at Disney parks

A pretty comprehensive list of all the fonts used in Disney parks, where they are used and where to download them from.

In. Fucking. Credible.


Tuesday, 16 March 2004


I'm not usually a big fan of mash-ups, especially not the rash of post Jay-Z ones. But I've got to admit that this one is killer.


Wednesday, 10 March 2004

Album Review: Carbon Glacier

Carbon Glacier, (named after the breathtaking black and white mass atop Mount Rainier) is Veirs’ fourth album, is one great impressionistic mood-sweep.

Her last album, Troubled By The Fire while utterly beguiling, trod a familiar, country-tinged path, too similar to the works of Gillian Welch and Emmylou Harris to be considered a great work. At times, Troubled By The Fire attempted to straddle too many genres (one minute bluegrass, one minute country, one minute agit-rock), and was denied of absolute greatness by being a bit scattershot and a bit too familiar. With Carbon Glacier, Veirs showcases an album of opaque, wintered laments that evoke the cold, jagged landscape of the Colorado Rockies.

While an album based on a landscape is nothing new, no other artist has succeeded like Veirs. Where other artists (notably Bruce Springsteen on Nebraska) have used the winter as a metaphor for emotional atrophy and exile, Veirs turns the idea on its head, instead focussing on the possibility of new life amongst the icy terrain. The opening lines are telling, “My wooden vibrating mouth / sing me your lover’s song / come with me and we’ll head up North / Where the rivers run icy and strong.” (Ether Sings) and so Veirs remains here for the duration of the album, using the American wilderness as giant metaphor and exploring nature’s unpredictability and the failings of humanity via gently exquisite songs that are both dark and enlightening.

Rapture is an excellent example of the Veirs’ songwriting range, name-checking Kurt Cobain (“junk coursing through his veins”) and Virginia Woolf (“Death came and hung her coat”). While comparing Monet’s Giverny gardens and Japanese poet Basho’s, “plucking ponds and toads” to, “the tree that writes great poetry / doing itself so well.” Recent single The Cloud Room balances its pop-leanings with a beautiful description of winter evenings, (“Trees fade to white / and boulders just might make an appearance / if the sun shines just right”) immaculately. Elsewhere, Chimney Sweeping Man offers a take on Dylan-esque narrative; the lonely protagonist locked into a life pattern of squandered promise. Veirs succeeds in translating the bleak, isolated immensity of nature into the bleak, isolated vastness of the modern city-sprawl, which ensures the album’s resonance

While Veirs’ voice is responsible for the imagery, much of the stark beauty is due to the credible production work of sometime Modest Mouse/Howe Gelb collaborator Tucker Martine; whose bare and simplistic arrangements still bear enough edge so as not to dull the listener into passivity. As Veirs' voice reaches its angel-sweet peak on the chorus to Rapture, a strange, descending vibraphone emerges, conjuring an air of stargazed self-discovery. Elsewhere, Wind Is Blowing Stars with its simple voice and guitar motif, cupped in a heavenly string arrangement is stunning. Only the queasy feedback of Salvage A Smile breaks the stride of the album. Above a flurry of urgently plucked, overdriven guitar and Veirs’ despondent poetry, Eyvind Kang’s viola creates a wonderful cacophony of human despair and strained dissonance.

While the album is deeply-rooted in feelings of isolation, the closing track, Riptide hints at a route out. Accompanied again by Kang’s weeping viola, she whispers, “And with this phosphorescence map / A sailor’s chart, a mermaid’s hand / something I’ll find.” You can be certain she will.

Carbon Glacier is the sound of a focussed songwriter hitting full stride. Not only does it excel in terms of songcraft and musicality; Veirs manages to deliver dour and disaffected subject matter without ever sounding detached or impenetrable. Carbon Glacier is a cold, beautiful and engaging record that improves with every listen. An absolute masterpiece.

Saturday, 6 March 2004

Album Review: What It Sounds Like Volume 1

Alternative Country (or as it has become known) is a tough sound to define. Ever since No Depression was first published in 1995, the magazine has sought to provide examples of, but even they have been quick to point out that they don't quite know what it is (hence the disclaimer, 'whatever that is' appearing on every cover). The definition is elusive because, as with all art, the music pays no mind to strictures or bounds. And yet, somewhere, somehow there is a commonality, a harmonizing chord struck between the cracks of the styles and genres that blend together amid the artists portrayed in their pages. Ultimately though, the best way to understand any music, is to hear it. And here is a collection of thirteen moving and inspired songs that seem to fit together under the banner (whatever that is).

Seattle may seem like an odd place for a country compilation to begin, but then Johnny Cash was no ordinary country performer and Time Of The Preacher is no ordinary country track. Cash, during one of his final tours decided to stop off at a local studio and record this Willie Nelson track. Joining him are Kim Thayil (Soundgarden) on guitar, Krist Novoselic (Nirvana) on bass and Sean Kinney (Alice In Chains) on drums. Concluding this ephemeral super-group was John Carter Cash on twelve-string. As expected, the result is staggering; as Cash delivers one of his most powerful vocal performances.

Ryan Adams' former alma mater, Whiskeytown, make an appearance. Despite being surrounded by more worldly-wise artists on every track, it is the twenty-year-old Adams who sums up the feelings behind more than anyone else, as he admits, "So I started this damn country band / cause punk rock was too hard to sing." Faithless Street is lifted from Whiskeytown's 1995 album of the same name and is a potent reminder that while Adams' rock leanings have become more evident, his roots can be found in country music. Adams isn't the only artist on this collection who abandoned his punk lineage to forge a career in country music. No Depression's Artist of the Decade, Alejandro Escovedo's (formerly a member of 70s punk band The Nuns) finest moment, the startling Five Hearts Breaking is also featured.

The Carter Family's No Depression In Heaven demands inclusion, for it's the track that gave 'No Depression' magazine its name. The song is often credited to A.P. Carter, though research has shown that the true author was James D. Vaughn. This song has often been covered (most notably by New Lost City Ramblers and Uncle Tupelo), but it is the Carter Family's adaptation that remains the definitive version.

Other highlights include the beautiful, Is Heaven Good Enough For You by Alison Moorer, Buddy Miller's caustic, Does My Ring Burn Your Finger? and Hayseed's interpretation of the age-old standard, Farther Alon. Farther Along is proof, once again, that Emmylou Harris is the most perfect harmonising partner in country music history, perfectly complementing Christopher Wyant's baritone vocal.

This disc is bright and humorous yet gloomy and poignant. No Depression doesn't assist in establishing a definition for What it does do though, is serve as an excellent starting point for those to start their journey into the realms into the more credible end of country music. Frankly, this compilation is an excellent opportunity for any music fan to buy a baker's dozen of tremendous, disparate yet comparable songs in one fell swoop.