Thursday, 30 December 2010

bye bye christmas hello new year

feel that sad lump in your chest? that's the last globule of christmas making its way southwards. but just because the Day of Turkey and Presents is over doesn't mean the Season of Fun and Happiness is anywhere near concluded. tomorrow is new year, and all the cool cats will be here:

yep, after last year's drunken debacle, 50% of bottle rocket will return to sleazys for NYE fun. gonna be aaaaaaaaaaace.


Thursday, 23 December 2010

bestest films of 2010!

i mentioned a few posts back that i'd voted in the skinny writer's top films of 2010 poll. while there was a fair amount of match up (in obvious areas like toy story 3 and the social network, but also with less obvious choices like white material), there were, inevitably, points of divergence. i've repeated my top 10 here, and expanded it out to a top 20 since there were a lot of good movies this year. now for the excuses: i didn't see uncle boonmee, dogtooth, the headless woman, carlos, winter's bone, another year and probably a bunch more critically acclaimed flicks, so their absence is unfortunate but unavoidable. i didn't think a whole lot of the kids are alright, the ghost or enter the void, so they're oot too. here's what i did rate:

1. lebanon (dir. samuel moaz)
one of four films in this top twenty that i caught at the glasgow film festival back in february. that trumps berlin (1) and edinburgh (0). not bad considering their respective sizes and reputations. the ryan reynolds showcase buried seems to have ended up in a few best-of-year lists already, but moaz's film is easily the more claustrophobic and unsettling viewing experience.

2. a prophet (dir. jacques audiard)
it always feels strange championing a film that had its moment in the spotlight a full year ago. but uk cinemas only recieved this remarkable film in january, so it's a 2010 film in my book.

3. exit through the gift shop (dir. banksy)
either the best documentary of the year, the best faux-documentary of the year, the best practical joke of the year or just the best comedy of the year. like double take, banksy's film debut explored the divide between truth and fiction, yet it never alienates or bores with high-falutin ways.

4. the social network (dir. david fincher)
i'm sitting with a copy of time magazine beside me. it's emblazened with mark zuckerberg's face: he's their person of the year, the esteemed publication's most important person of 2010. but all i can think looking at his intense, straight-to-camera stare is: 'what a douche'. thanks sorkin...

5. toy story 3 (dir. lee unkrich)
it's just not a top ten list without a pixar entry.

6. double take (dir. johan grimonprez)
here's a review i wrote back in may.

7. how i spent last summer (dir. aleksei popogrebsky)
i had to leave this off the list i submitted to the skinny as it hasn't yet had its uk release. i caught it at berlin, where it's 2 leads jointly won the best actor award. i'm not sure if a release is on the cards, but if it does make it to our isle, you'd be a reet fool to miss it.

8. city of life and death (dir. chuan lu)
another GFF movie, and another film that subsequently seems to have disappeared. it's not an easy film to watch, but nor should it be.

9. inception (dir. christopher nolan)
move over donnie darko: adolescent film buffs have a new favourite film to high-mindedly debate between class.

10. white material (dir. claire denis)
denis's last visit to africa resulted in the indelible puzzle beau trevail. white material is an equally enigmatic creation, tight with tension and boasting an incredibly subtle central performance from isabelle huppert.

11. samson and delilah (dir. warwick thornton)
12. still walking (dir. hirokazu koreeda)
13. bad lieutenent: port of call new orleans (dir. werner herzog)
14. shutter island (dir. martin scorcese)
15. ajami (dir. scandar copti and yaron shani)
16. rare exports (dir. jalmari helander)
17. somewhere (dir. sophia coppolla)
18. kick ass (dir. mathew vaughn)
19. green zone (dir. paul greengrass)
20. monsters (dir. gareth edwards)

close but no cigars for a single man, my son my son what have ye done, the maid, scott pilgrim versus the world, the princess and the frog, let me in, four lions, the killer inside me, we are what we are and the secret in their eyes.

right, i'm off to see tron legacy.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

december playlist!

saturday twas lovely - we were rather keen on the improvised lighting arrangement (those wee desk lamps really caught our best angle), and the christmas songs went down a treat. not with everyone mind - as one girl inquired bluntly, "why christmas?". the explanation that it was the season for such things did not suffice apparently... ach well, you can't please every last tom, dick or ebeneezer; here's what the rest of us danced to:

1. au revoir simone - fallen snow
2. clap your hands say yeah - in this home on ice
3. sally shapiro - anorak christmas
4. ballboy - i wonder if you're drunk enough to sleep with me tonight
5. talking heads - burning down the house
6. of montreal - i feel ya strutter
7. the supremes - santa claus is coming to town
8. the beach boys - little saint nick
9. rem - gardening at night
10. the drums - i felt stupid
11. saint etienne - i was born on christmas day
12. the flaming lips - race for the prize
13. jimmy eat world - last christmas
14. twin shadow - shooting holes
15. chromeo - don't turn the lights on
16. new order - sub-culture
17. mariah carey - all i want for christmas is you
18. hello saferide - ipod christmas
19. best coast - boyfriend
20. edwyn collins - do it again
21. the vaselines - i hate the 80s
22. summer cats - plastic christmas trees
23. abba - super trouper
24. belle and sebastian - i could be dreaming
25. the ronettes - frosty the snowman
26. the concretes - can't hurry love
27. felt - the day the rain came down
28. the beastie boys - ch-ch-check it out
29. jackie wilson - higher and higher
30. the jam - strange town
31. asobi seksu - merry christmas (i don't want to fight tonight)
32. idlewild - when i argue i see shapes
33. deerhunter - revival
34. tom petty - american girl
35. wreckless eric - reconnez cherie
36. kurtis blow - christmas rapping
37. the waitresses - christmas wrapping
38. le tigre - my my metrocard
39. pulp - misshapes
40. low - just like christmas
41. david bowie - modern love
42. the pretenders - kid
43. julian casablancas - i wish it was christmas today
44. echo and the bunnymen - lips like sugar
45. associates - party fears two
46. ladytron - playgirl
47. sparks - something for the girl with everything
48. the beatles - paperback writer
49. the go-betweens - bye bye pride
50. the wedding present - step into christmas
51. franz ferdinand - ulysses
52. frank alamo - je ma bats ganier
53. jose feliciano - feliz navidad
54. the flamin groovies - paint it black
55. twisted sister - i saw mommy kissing santa claus
56. the national - bloodbuzz ohio
57. elvis presley - teddy bear
58. fucked up - do they know it's christmas?
59. the pogues and kirsty maccoll - fairytale of new york


Thursday, 16 December 2010

le film reviews

last month i watched and reviewed a couple of films that were screening at the french film festival in glasgow. the first has just been put up at - neither was 'best-of-year' material (i will be doing the whole list rigmarole shortly, honest), but they had their moments...

Skirt Day (dir. Jean-Paul Lilienfeld, starring Isabelle Adjani, Yann Collette)

In 2008, French teachers protested budget cuts that had stretched education resources to breaking point. Skirt Day therefore couldn’t have been timelier: a harried, barely coping teacher, worn down by taunts from students and an unsupportive bureaucracy, takes her class hostage in a moment of desperation. But timing apart, the film is a disappointingly mishandled muddle. As the handgun exchanges hands several times during the siege, it prompts multiple plot twists that are either overly obvious or unconvincing, while the sheer quantity of socio-political issues paid lip service (most awkwardly racial tensions in the banlieue), causes its fragile frame to buckle. The supporting cast are resultantly marginalised, rendered two-dimensional stereotypes of the kind the narrative otherwise makes motions to critique. But there is significant salvation in the form of a committed lead turn from Isabelle Adjani, which won her a record-breaking fifth Best Actress Cesar. Her unexpectedly complex performance earns an A+ in an otherwise D standard film.

Imogene McCarthery (dir. Alexandre Charlot, Franck Magnier, starring Catherine Frot, Lambert Wilson)

Haggis for tea, a wee dram at every opportunity and tartan togs across the board: welcome to sixties Scotland, home of unlikely spy Imogène McCarthery (a game turn from a sprightly Catherine Frot). Charged with delivering top secret plans to the Highlands, patriotic Imogène battles dastardly Reds and deceptive double-agents with a mix of pluck and good fortune. There’s amusement to be had viewing Scotland through the eyes of our continental neighbours (alcoholism and xenophobia remain our shorthand stereotypes it seems), though generally the humour is far from mean-spirited; instead, it seems oddly nostalgic for a fantasy ‘foreign’ past. But the Egypt and Brazil-set OSS 117 films do a similar thing with greater conviction and more consistent laughs, and by comparison Imogène’s sleuthing feels pedestrian. No matter where Jean Dujardin’s spy visits next, his adventures will likely be worth following.; take Scotland away from Imogène and you’re left with the lightest of farces, attracting only the mildest of interest.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

a bottle rocket christmas

this saturday bottle rocket has its annual christmas party - or as fellow rocketeer michael has decided to call it, our secual non-denomenational winter fest. we tend to have it at this time of year so as not to confuse anyone. michael, care to introduce things further?

Ho ho ho everyone,

Being the kind of club night that makes its own organic pesto from scratch, writes po-faced letters into The Guardian about the horrendous carbon footprint of its travel correspondents, and sternly lectures all the other club nights down the pub about how it recycles its own faeces to make vegan shoes for orphans, Bottle Rocket is aware that Christmas is a deeply offensive team of year. It is yet another exampl...e of western cultural imperialism and should, of course, be abolished. However, it is responsible for some damn fine music which overrides everything else, and this is what we'll be celebrating down at the Latter Day Church of Bottle Rocket on Saturday the 18th of December. So if you fancy a wee yuletide celebration featuring the usual mix of indiepop, rock n roll, postpunk, motown and the like, but with a with a festive slant, get your dancing skis on and head down to Nice 'n' Sleazy. There may also be balloons, decorations or Christmassy treats if we get round to it, but no promises like. Happy holidays!

*11:30pm - 3am!
*£3! (or free if you're in the bar by 11:30)

Tell you what, as a gift from us to you, please stick any requests in the usual place. No, not THERE; on the facebook wall... (find it here)

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

decemberrrrrr skinny

gosh damn it's cold. if, for some crazy reason, you're actually walking around outside in weather like this, you should undoubtedly pick up a copy of the latest issue of the skinny. it'll totally warm you up (figuratively, not literally - it really is rather cold).

amongst the words and pictures are the following pieces written by yours truly:

- fence halloween @ stereo live review
- les savy fav @ oran mor live review
- randolph's leap @ captains rest live review
- electropapknit vol. 1 album review (album of the month)
- sophie's pigeons - 'names and pictures' album review
- various artists - 'forest records presents' album review
- the scottish enlightenment - 'st. thomas' album review
- seafieldroad - 'there are no maps for this part of the city' album review
- the savings and loan - 'today i need light' album review

there's also the skinny's top 10 albums of the year - quite a few of my personal votes ended up in the final list. i'll post my own favourites later in the month; here's what the skinny as a whole decided on:

1. joanna newsom - have one on me
2. the national - high violet
3. caribou - swim
4. arcade fire - the suburbs
5. the phantom band - the wants
6. beach house - teen dream
7. pantha du prince - black noise
8. lcd soundsystem - this is happening
9. the books - the way out
10. deerhunter - halcyon digest

the film team also put together a best of year list - again, my personal list would differ somewhat, and i'll no doubt put that up in a few weeks' time. in the meantime, here's the skinny's combined top, er, eleven:

1. the social network
=2. bad lieutenent: port of cll new orleans
=2. inception
=4. a prophet
=4. toy story 3
6. dogtooth
7. four lions
8. the ghost
=9. mary and max
=9. scott pilgrim vs. the world
=9. white material

you certainly won't see the ghost so high in my personal list - i'm a little baffled by the love it's received. but that's democracy for you...

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

skinny album of the month: electropapknit

here's my review of the nifty new compilation from electropapknit, which has been made the skinny's album of the month for december...

In the first of what will hopefully be a lengthy run, Glasgow-based DIY promoters Electropapknit deliver a stock-take of the Scottish underground, a perfect complement to Predestination Records’ similar ventures. Several participants need little introduction, having been praised at length in these pages before: Eagleowl proffer the stirring title track from this year’s superb Into the Fold EP; Jesus H Foxx are represented by J & J’s delicate album taster, while Deathpodal pluck the gnarly Every Superstition Shall Be Removed from their Exu Wow EP (the label’s debut foray into the record-releasing racket) to up the rock quotient.

But the secondhand nature of these tracks shouldn’t put you off, not least because the download won’t cost you a penny: this is an exciting collection that will almost certainly add at least one new name to your radar. In this writer’s case, that honour goes to Noma’s peculiar chopped-organ soundscape, Detail’s ghostly prog wig-out, and the abrasive barrage of noise churned forth by Public Spaces. The latter ply their squall at the launch party later this month, where those so inclined can drop some change on a limited-edition physical copy of this vibrant, if necessarily fractional, guide to Scotland's musical fringe.

Monday, 6 December 2010

question: so you're only a few hours away from 2011 and you need something AWESOME to do - any ideas?

A: come to nice n sleazys for your NYE kicks, where 50% of bottle rocket will be spinning party-time tunes in the upstairs bar till the very late time of 4am (by which point he will be most likely be filled to the brim with beers and alcohols).

hip hip HOORAY

Friday, 3 December 2010

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

reviews: the scottish enlightenment, the savings and loan, sophie's pigeons

The Scottish Enlightenment - St. Thomas (****)

The Scottish Enlightenment echo winter well, with skeletal guitar lines as brittle and bare as tree branches and a settled pace as quietly insidious as snow fall. They won’t change the world like Hume and the gang, but they’ll soundtrack many a crisp walk, ensuring every footstep quivers with drama. Bad Seeds menace and Low-like minimalism join post-rock crescendos, but just when you start to worry the tone’s too oppressive to be enjoyable, a lighter side emerges.

Particularly effective are Taxidermy of Love’s clàrsach flourishes and the faint Yule-ness of The Soft Place, which prove important leavens in an otherwise po-faced mix (though any Christmassy atmosphere in the latter is probably accidental, dealing as it does with the decidedly un-festive topic of transplant surgery). Such careful balancing culminates in a majestic finale reminiscent of Hope of the States at their most haunting – chilly, yet warming in its emotional openness.

Out 13th December

The Savings and Loan - Today I Need Light (***)

The Savings and Loan aren’t looking for an It’s-a-Wonderful-Life, community-spirit bail-out on their debut – just a stiff drink. As a guest turn from Glaswegian poet Tom Leonard monologues a lengthy booze order, the sombre Catholic Boys in the Rain unfurls like Nick Cave circa The Boatman’s Call – quiet, dangerous and likely to sink deep into your brain.

Singer Martin Donnelly’s lyrics aren’t always as sharp as might be expected of a published poet (“Where the ATM’s churn out the deficit, and where every breath on Hope Street promises death” is a line for the times, but not for the ages), but his rich baritone gives everything he utters an evocative glaze. The likes of Pale Water recall the glum majesty of The National – a band routinely tagged with the epithet ‘slow-burn’ both in relation to career path and aesthetic. The Savings and Loan’s flame may burn even slower, but it glows bright nonetheless.

Out 6th December

Sophie's Pigeons - Names and Pictures (***)

A curse on you, Urban Dictionary. we could have happily lived our lives believing the only definition of ‘trunkle’ was ‘tree monster foe of Mario’. Instead, we have to contend with a second definition featuring the words ‘rectal prolapse’ (whilst wishing this wasn't researched on a work computer). Hopefully Sophie Nelson and her Pigeons have their own meaning in mind on their debut’s opening track Monkeys Trunkle, which – potential inappropriate-internet-usage-sackings aside – constitutes a charming introduction to Nelson’s cheery pop sound.

Names and Pictures gives extra legs to the ongoing vogue for slightly eccentric female pop-stars (Marina and her Diamonds, Florence and her Machine), with Elevating and Impatient proving delightfully moreish. Best of all is It’s Gonna Bite, a smartly constructed, retro-styled would-be chart-hit that identifies Nelson as a performer to keep an eye on – if only to make sure her band don’t shit on your car.

Out 6th December