Friday, December 31, 2010

New Years Resolution for 2011 - Watch Less Reality TV

I have some great books unread on the shelf, and have maybe seen only 3 or 4 Hitchcock films in my time.

I usually like to give something up for Lent, and this year, considered ditching crisps or Facebook, but decided to obliterate any Hollyoaks related programming from my life schedule. Oh how the family Lepki rejoiced in the additional two hours of parlour games and home baking. Well, not so much on the parlour games, but the bread making has come on leaps and bounds in 2010.

The start of 2011 marks a good opportunity to review some of the other time filling crap that filled slots in between work and bed. After a tough-ish day of bringing home the bacon, I have to set expectations with some relative sanity and am unlikely to thrash out a quick screenplay between 9 and 10 when the firstborn teases between cosy sleep and wide eyed attention seeking.

During the last few months of the year, I found myself watching the time sapping drain of the X-Factor, as Simon Cowell and Cheryl Cole paused and manipulated the proles into buying and voting and eating up column inches for 12 weeks and made names of the lesser talented participants such as Wagner and Cher Lloyd who made good copy that was constantly referred to in the show, but I ignored out the context of the 4 hours I was already watching. This spring, Michael McIntyre is added to the BGT panel, but I am not going to get sucked in.

I have managed to steer clear of Strictly and anything on Ice, long may that continue.

On the BBC, I also tuned into Alan Sugar's The Apprentice which whittled down another 12 or so candidates and padded an hour with a couple of well edited points and lots of nice HD flyover shots of London. I bought the bagels in Kingston and they were stale. the show can probably disappear from my schedule in 2011 too.

I doubt that I need to see another season of models move into house, bounce on beds, get makeovers, have a few ups and downs and one eventually gets some contract but you never seem to ever see again. I learnt that lesson from the Search for the New Pussycat Doll. The winner, Asia, never actually got to be that Pussycat Doll, but the 12 week elimination process had enough dips and grinds in branded PCD booty shorts in between time lapse shots of LA and painful renditions of Lady Marmalade to keep viewers intrigued.

I have probably seen enough The Hills for one lifetime, and on some occasions, have seen the same episode several times. I no longer spend Sundays in a hungover trance, so Lauren, Spencer and Heidi can do one, and take their accompanying The City with them.

Two reality shows that I am more reluctant to lose are sewing show Project Runway which actually showcases some kind of talent, and the Amazing Race for the semi-selfish travel bragging opportunity to see speeded up slowed down shots of nice places I've been to.

E4 and More4 staples Location Location Location and Relocation Relocation seem so pointless now considering they were all filmed in 2005 and feature conveniently indecisive couples who fill and hour, or rather about 30 minutes of original content as they ponder neighbourhoods they would consider moving to with the profits from their one bedroom flat in Balham which tripled in value between x and y in the early zeroes. Rather than the speeded up footage, the Kirsty and Phil shows have slanted angles of a tube station, and zooms into coffee shop signs to show the product of early decade E4 gentrification.

Supernanny and Wifeswap are another couple of tired E4 shows which tantrum their way through empty slots in the schedule.

So, unless any great new reality shows come along like Rollergirls, The Tourist Trap or The Town That Wants a Twin, I plan to steer clear or pretty much all of this stuff.

Unless it is about home baking that is, like the best show of 2010, The Great British Bake Off, which maybe in some way helped me kick the reality TV habit.

Pop may indeed eat itself.

Friday, December 10, 2010

2010: The Lepki Musical Review of the Year

In a predictably highbrow twist, in a year where the impact of being featured on the X Factor could recycle a flagging career, being featured on a BBC4 documentary led to a glut of plays on the only chart that matters - The Lepki Chart.

Neu burst into Lepki consciousness in 2010, years after their influence seeped through countless Stereolab albums. Masters of the sparse 1 chord marathons, Neu featured on BBC4's excellent The Birth of Krautrock documentary. This view of the genre also led to the discovery of Faust, Popul Vuh, Kluster and a renewed appreciation of Kraftwerk, and only the second ever David Bowie song to make an impact (A New Career in a New Town finally toppled Lets Dance as the most played Thin White Duke song).

BBC4's Dennis Wilson documentary followed the Karen Carpenter story, and both detailed the lives of ultimately doomed figures from the 60s and 70s. Pacific Ocean Blue provided a soaringly inconsistent but occasionally magical backdrop to the spring, and the drum breaks on the Carpenters All I Can Do will surely come in for plundering when LTJ Bukem launches his long awaited return from DnB exile.

Bradford Cox ended the year as the top composer, with his double whammy of Atlas Sound and Deerhunter. The bands have a definite common thread of dreamy sonics.

All of this material is from before 2010... 

Looking at the iTunes play counts, an intriguing thing becomes apparent when looking at plays by year.
The 80's were shit.
1983 only just managed to register as one listen through the Final Cut was deemed to be a necessary requirement for a Pink Floyd completist. 

Probably the best year for music ever was 1970, as tunes from this year are still being played in their droves. Os Mutantes A Divina Comédia ou Ando Meio Desligado, Pink Floyd's Zabriskie Point, and Doris's Did you Give The World Some Love Today were all released 40 years ago. Blimey.

As the years roll by, it is in 1997 that music really starts to have a decent significance again, and this is largely down to Broadcast and Yo La Tengo and the release of various David Lynch soundtracks by composer Angelo Badalamenti. These artists are yearly mainstays.

My Gig of the Year would have to be Broadcast at the Royal Festival Hall a gig the Guardian called "Hypnotic, lulling, yet faintly unsettling". I would have gone for loopy myself with all sorts of swirling patterns and trippy visuals.
Less exciting was Rufus Wainwright who played a solo show in Sadler Wells on a boiling hot evening.
Oh and Screamadelica live was excellent too. Musically superb, though the sound was a bit crummy in places, right by the speaker.

Most Played Artists of 2010 - by number of tracks played

Yo La Tengo 642
Atlas Sound 541
Angelo Badalamenti 522
Pink Floyd 360
Iron & Wine 336
Broadcast 322
Stereolab 296
Broadcast & The Focus Group 280
Deerhunter 275
The Aliens 234
Caribou 221
Leonard Cohen 206
Massive Attack 198
Os Mutantes 198
Quantic 179
The Velvet Underground 125
The Beta Band 124
Dennis Wilson 111
Fleet Foxes 110
XX 102
Sparklehorse 101
Lou Reed 94
The Bees 94
Neu! 94
Rufus Wainwright 90
Spacemen 3 90
Animal Collective 89
Neil Young 88

When looking at the most played artists, you need to go all the way down to Caribou for the first 2010 album in the list.

"electro heavy, slightly disintegrating melodic trance packs a punch of intruguing non-resolution."

Melodic and largely acoustic music was flavour of the season, with Iron &a Wine springing in from nowhere with their 2007 album The Shepherd's Dog accounting for most plays.

Early days of having a child in the house meant gentle songs were the preferred accompaniment.

Doris - Did you Give the World Some love today baby is a lovely timepiece from the late 60's which is a little bit of European Motown. I think of Doris Svennson as a cross between Aretha Franklin and Janis Joplin, with a little bit of Cardigans/Carpenters thrown in.

Finally, the Dark Night Of The Soul was the token melancholy album of the month, with the Sparklehorse collaboration heavy piece of work mixing up catchy lyrical hooks with moody menacing nightmares.

You can listen to highlights on Spotify here...

Overall quite a good year, and due to the continued appropriateness of the music, I would give IRON AND WINE my artist of the year award.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

London at 7.30am

This picture was featured on BBC Breakfast as part of the "should we put the clocks back" argument

Friday, October 15, 2010

Metallic Spheres (Metallic Side) review

Here is a incident-by-incident review of Dave Gilmour and The Orb's 29 minute Metallic Spheres...

40s into the spheres - this is going to be quite funny
1m 35 bass
1m 40 out takes riff from run like hell
lots of cars passing - panning from side to side
3m 50 drums
6m 30 a bit of keyboard twiddle the weed has kicked in
9m sounds like the orb here
9m 45 lyrics!
10m 30 can't help shake the feeling that this is pretty improvised
11m 30 piano
13m 40 moog twiddles. i expect a dog barking sample shortly
14m 30 reboot. acoustic guitar
16m 30 percussion still includes occasional milk bottle. alan's still psychedelic
17m 30 like the equivalent minute in echoes - whooshy noises.. will it all resolve by m 22?
19m looped talking... toast i like marmalade, but not quiet
19m 30 "choir" voice on the keyboard. gone a bit indian
oh wait its 29m long
22m 30 sawing away with the reverb delay
23m twinkles, sounds like the orb have woken up after 9m off
24m 30 finally??
28m the car pans again
well, that was the Metallic Side

Initial thoughts 6 out of 10.

Friday, September 17, 2010

First snow of the year

Ludicrous! Snow in September... well I am in Canada, but still. September...

The Lepki Chart - Summer 2010 iTunes Play Counts

Every so often I have to bin some music from my laptop. This time round artists twixt A and E felt the wrath of my delete key...

I love Manchester music, and the whole baggy sound, but when Ian Brown gets serious and over James Lavelle's his groove it all loses its sloppy charm somewhat.
Both Arctic Monkeys albums bit the digital dust this month as did some choppy changey Avalanches tracks. The early zeroes feels quite dated now as archives were plundered and remixed for the ADD generation.
Bjork's later albums - Medulla and Volta albums probably need some serious listening, but I can never quite find the mood. A few Tchaikovsky symphonies were worthy but largely unplayed and made way as did some unsorted Charlie Parker.

Jazz in general needs to be loved and have a back story. You can't just plonk 6GB of someone else's music on an ipod and start enjoying it - you need to have been in a record shop when a trumpet caught your ear, or in some east London flat at 3am as the conversation became quieter and slower and it was just Miles filling the pre-sunlight void.
Chemical Brothers, Deep Purple's Come Taste the Band, and Duffy bid adieu too.

So what was top of the pops in Summer 2010? Well you can listen on
Spotify here...
Melodic and largely acoustic music was flavour of the season, with Iron & Wine springing in from nowhere with their 2007 album
The Shepherd's Dog accounting for most plays.

Early days of having a child in the house meant gentle songs were the preferred accompaniment.

Next down the new entries is Caribou's Swim. In a classic piece of counter-programming, Caribou's electro heavy, slightly disintegrating melodic trance packs a punch of intruguing non-resolution.

Deerhunter - Microcastle is a logical continuation of the Atlas Sound Sound which has been popular on the Lepki Pod since this time last year.

Doris - Did you Give the World Some love today baby is a lovely timepiece from the late 60's which is a little bit of European Motown. I think of Doris Svennson as a cross between Aretha Franklin and Janis Joplin, with a little bit of Cardigans/Carpenters thrown in.

Finally, the Dark Night Of The Soul was the token melancholy album of the month, with the Sparklehorse collaboration heavy piece of work mixing up catchy lyrical hooks with moody menacing nightmares.

intercontinental cultural differences: 1

My complete cultural thesis is based on watching daytime TV feeds from Detroit...
We think that TV is bad and getting worse in the UK, well, the US has that nailed. OK, they produce Mad Men and Weeds and a few things like that, but the majority of output is so brash, and there is a lot of it.
Chat shows require you to a) dance (Ellen) b) cry (Oprah), c) give stuff away (Oprah) d) cook (Rachel Ray) e) talk incessantly (all of them) f) applaud (all of them).
The applause to content ratio is about 8 to 1.
Why so noisy?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Prediction of Lawro's Prediction - Match Day 1

Lawro, oh Lawro. He of the bland opinions on the BBC website. Every week, the former Liverpool defender plumps for home wins for the "Big 4", predicts 1-1 draws for anybody in mid table, and uses his weekly column to make largely inoffensive and stunningly obvious comments about the characters and circumstances in the weekend fixtures.


Oh, it's an early kick-off for "television"? That probably means that teams might not have woken up, and we never see the best of the players in these games. It's Champions League week? Managers may look to rotate their squads with "one eye" on the crucial fixture in Honved.

As a text of my copy writing skills, I offer my services as a ghost writer for this column. As a service to my reader(no s), I have put in Lawro's predictions - this was after I had compiled my prediction.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

 Tottenham v Man City, 12:45

This game is a repeat of the crucial Champions League decider from the end of last season. Since then, City have spent like they were the ones going into the top competition, adding Touré, Silva and Boateng amongst others, and I fancy them to have a very good season. These big names are in addition to the set Mark Hughes bought a year earlier, and therein lies the worry for Mancini - a run of poor results or any dressing room disharmony and he will be under threat like Hughes was last autumn.

Both sides will be looking to get off to a good start, but I fancy City to edge this one, as Spurs will have one eye on their Champions League qualifier.

Score 1-2. [Lawro went for 2-1]

Aston Villa v West Ham, 15:00

Manager-less Villa haven't had the best of pre-seasons and Martin O' Neill's are some pretty big shoes to fill. His team won't become bad overnight, but the new man will have to get in quick and make sure they don't get off to a stinker. Avram Grant tries something new after this thankless task at Pompey and has a bit of rag-tag team at West Ham to try and steer to safety this time around.

Score 1-1. [2-0]

Blackburn v Everton, 15:00

Blackburn improved last year and are a tough team to break down, particularly at home. Some of the fancy boys from London have problems on their trips to Lancashire, and Big Sam certainly has a few issues with many of the other managers in the division, but Everton under Moyes continue to chip away and should be a solid, if not necessarily thrilling match to open up their campaign.

Score 1-1. [1-1]

Bolton v Fulham, 15:00

I'm worried about Bolton this season. They did just enough to stay up, but looked like they were drifting downwards. Fulham won all the plaudits last year for their Europa League campaign, and will take some time to adjust to Roy Hodgson's departure for Liverpool. Mark Hughes has never stuck around too long in a job, and will be under pressure from the start to prove to himself and Al-Fayed that he can keep up Hodgson's good work.

Score 1-1. [2-1]

Sunderland v Birmingham, 15:00

Both teams did a good job at picking enough points up at home to not have to worry about relegation last season, but the real challenge for both is to get into Europe. Like a lot of the mid table teams, there haven't been to many notable ins and outs, so there may be a bit more continuity. Darren Bent will be looking to prove a point to Fabio Capello and I fancy him to get on the scoresheet in this one.

Score 1-0. [1-0]

Wigan v Blackpool, 15:00

Wigan Pier and Blackpool Tower are steeped in history, and may both have seen better days, but this will be a local Lancashire celebration on Saturday. You'd have been considered insane 10 years ago if you would have said Leeds, Wednesday and Forest would be struggling in the lower leagues and that these two would be in the top flight, but that's what can happen. This will be the first of 38 cup finals for Ian Holloway's side, but you have to fancy Wigan's experience will see them with the 3 points.

Score 2-1. [2-1 - man I am good at this]

Wolverhampton v Stoke, 15:00

Wolves flirted with the drop last season, but managed to steer clear, mainly due to the awfulness of the teams below them. I can't see them getting off to a ghreat start here either. Stoke don't always play the prettiest football, but this is a business, and Tony Pulis doesn't have the resources to bring in Xavi and Iniesta to the Potteries. 
Score 0-1. [1-1]

Chelsea v West Brom, 17:30

The first real gimme of the weekend. Champions Chelsea have lost Joe Cole, but brought in Benayoun, and with the improving Malouda to add to Lampard and Essien, there looks like there will be too much for any team - let alone West Brom.

Will the legs of the older Chelsea players keep going for the full season? Only time will tell, but its difficult to look further than them to retain their crown in May.

Score 3-0 [3-0]

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Liverpool v Arsenal, 16:00

These two teams have had some great encounters over the years, and you only have to look at Arshavin's 4 goal haul to sum up Premiership entertainment at its finest. Can the teams get to that standard on the first Sunday? Probably not, but look for lots of personalities with something to prove who will look to set down a marker for the season. 

Arsenal usually kick off the season with great style, but run out of gas in the Spring. Wenger will be looking to change this and bring some silverware back to the Emirates, but I can see them getting a point at best this weekend with Gerrard and Torres looking to show their new gaffer that they are committed to the cause at Anfield.
Score 2-2 [1-1]

Monday, 16 August 2010

Man Utd v Newcastle, 20:00

All eyes will be on Old Trafford on Monday as Man United kick off their campaign, and the Geordies return to the top flight.

Newcastle won the Championship quite comfortably last term, but weren't facing the likes of Rooney and Vidic week in week out. Like Chelsea, Man United are a team in transition with quite a few tired legs supporting some of the new players who are yet to really make their mark. Giggs and Scholes have been great ambassadors for the game, but may finally get displaced this year as the improving Nani and industrious Valencia look to mark their names in the folklore of the club.

Score 2-0 [2-0]

Note: A 10p bet with Coral on this stands to win me 112 MILLION pounds.

I think they would probably cap it before that amount of money.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Nintendo 3DS review

This is the Nintendo 3DS: video review from the Guardian's Tech team.