Sunday, 29 December 2013

The Dirty Dozen: Kid Canaveral review 2013's christmas choons

With their Christmas Baubles jamboree fast approaching, we ask Kid Canaveral to appraise the season’s crop of festive songs, separating the crackers from the crap...

Bright Eyes – God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen [from A Christmas Album, Saddle Creek, Out Now]
The Skinny: This is from their 2002 Christmas album, which has just been re-released on vinyl.
David: It’s a bit… dull.
Rose: But I don’t think that’s their fault – I think this is one of the more boring Christmas traditionals…
 D: Aye it’s their fault – no one forced them to record it!
Scott: I’d give this 6.
D: SIX?!? I’d say that’s very generous…
R: It’s fine. If I had a trendy shop I’d play it.
D: It’s the musical equivalent of having an uncomfortable chat with a distant relative on Christmas Day – unwelcome and boring.
Kate: We’re setting the bar really low. Let’s go 5.

Future of the Left – The Real Meaning of Christmas [from How to Stop Your Brain in an Accident, Prescriptions, Out Now]
D: It’s certainly more exciting than Bright Eyes. They have some amazing lyrics normally – I liked that one 'where were you when Russell Brand discovered fire?' This one could do with some sleigh bells though.
R: Yeah, sleigh bells would really make this…
K: Still, we should go high – 8.

Olaf the Singing Snowman – In Summer [from Disney’s Frozen, in cinemas 6 Dec]
D, watching the accompanying video and looking displeased: Is he drinking whisky? And why’s he not melting?
R: He doesn’t know about melting! He’s never known anything but the cold, and this is his summer fantasy! I imagine there’s a tragic twist…
D: This is making me want to throw up.
R: It’s making me want to cry!
D: It’s fucking horrendous.
R: It’s not – if you were seven years old…
D: If I was 7 I’d still know that snowmen melt!
R: 9?
D: If you give that a 9 I quit the band.
K: I don’t think that can have more than 2 or 3.
R: 5! In my shop I’d have that and Bright Eyes, on a loop. It’s a strange shop.

Erasure – Make it Wonderful [from Snow Globe, Mute, Out Now]
R: There are some big expectations here.
D: Just waiting for a big chorus…
Chorus comes and goes.
R: Well it’s not really reaching lofty heights is it?
D: I really like Erasure, and I think that’s making me sympathetic towards this.
R: I don’t hate it. It might be a grower.
D: They’re just damned by their own back catalogue. Erasure would get a 10, but this… 6.

Sleigh Bells – Bitter Rivals [from Bitter Rivals, Lucky Number, Out Now]
D: That sounded like Limp Bizkit for a while…
R, singing: 'You’re my butterfly, sugar baby.' Sorry, that’s really harsh – no one wants to be compared to Crazy Town…
S: I think that should get 3.
The Skinny: That puts it level with Olaf the Singing Snowman…
R: I preferred Olaf. That had charm.
S: What happened to us being nice?

Leona Lewis – One More Sleep [Syco Music, out now]
R: Oh good, the most boring woman in pop…
D: 'Five more nights sleeping on my own' – is she going to shag Santa?
K: I think this is alright. It has the catchiest chorus so far.
R: But it’s really boring. It’s more clichéd than the Disney song.
D: It makes me think I should be panicking in a supermarket.
K: I think this might be a 5 as well. We have to give it some points for being so Christmassy…
R: It’s so cliched though! Plagiarism should not be rewarded!
D: We’ll say 4.

Eminem feat. Nate Ruess – Headlights [from The Marshall Mathers LP 2, Aftermath/Shady/Interscope, Out Now]
R: Is that Dido singing?
D: I think it’s Dr Dre…
S, noticing how much of the song has passed: Hold on where’s Eminem?
Marshall starts rapping; the band start sniggering.
K: Can we give this 1?
D: No! He loves his mother, you can’t give him 1!
S: I think I’ve heard enough.
R: It sounds like an album track.
D: An East 17 album track…
R: 'Cleaning out my closet' – ah, a reference to another Eminem song. Either that or it’s something he does often.
K: Maybe he does it at Christmas?

Run the Jewels – A Christmas Fucking Miracle [from Run the Jewels, Fool’s Gold, Out Now]
R: Well there’s some jingle bells…
D: 'Doesn’t get his portion' – that can be a problem at tables of large families.
S: It’s definitely better than Eminem anyway…
K: It is better than Eminem, though I think it lulled us into a false security, because it started so Christmassy.
R: I think there should be more songs that mix swearing and jingle bells.
The Skinny: Is hip-hop something you would usually listen to?
D: All the hip-hop albums I’ve got are older ones like Jurassic 5 and The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, so I wouldn’t say I was in touch! Shall we give that 6?
R: I think higher.
D: OK, 7. It had sleigh bells and lots of words. And he was on about Christmas dinner, and that’s tough.

Kurt Vile – Snowflakes are Dancing [from Wakin’ on a Pretty Daze, Matador, Out Now]
D: I like this – it’s soothing. It’s the kind of thing I can imagine lying in the Meadows listening to, trying to block out a djembe player.
R: Yeah this is good. I’d like to listen to the album.
K: What’s our highest score so far? 8? Then let’s give that 9.
D: Now there’s only one place left to go…

AC/DC – Highway to Hell [from Highway to Hell, Sony Music CMG, Out Now]
Playing with decorations, pulling crackers and examining the (rather rubbish) gifts inside...
R: A set square!
D: I’ve got a wee thimble!
K: I’ve got two jokes here. Let’s see… ‘What’s the smelliest animal on the farm?’ This is terrible…
R: Well objectively speaking I’d probably say the cows.
K: The toilet duck!
D: You don’t get ducks on farms! Maybe in idyllic fucking brochures…
K: ‘Why did the onion cry?’
D: Because he was struggling with being a sentient vegetable?
K: 'Because he accidentally cut himself.'
The Skinny, steering conversation back to task at hand: So, any thoughts on the campaign to have AC/DC as Christmas number one?
R: I think those contrarians are trying to steal Christmas out of the mouths of…
D: Jesus?
R: …charity, and they’re missing the point, which is we should be funnelling money into Simon Cowell’s pocket.
D: Maybe he’ll release our next album?
R: Oh, please let us sign to SyCo!
D: You’re only saying that so you can hang out with SuBo.
K: Just give that 8.
The Skinny: Speaking of SuBo…

Susan Boyle and Elvis Presley – O Come All Ye Faithful [Syco, 9 Dec]
K: It’s not a duet with dead Elvis is it? Oh my god it is…
Elvis pipes up.
D: Oh Jesus Christ.
K: I think this might have to get zero. There’s no reason to do a duet with dead Elvis.
R: SuBo can do what she likes!
D: For the record, we love SuBo but dead Elvis can go fuck himself.
K: Definitely zero. I think any duet with a dead person is out.
R: I think it’s realising the dream of life after death, which is what we’re supposed to think about at Christmas…
The Skinny: I’d say that’s more of an Easter theme…
R: In that case it should be Easter number one.                      
D: Can you make sure it’s clear that we love SuBo? Unfortunately dead Elvis has dragged her down…

TRACK OF THE MONTH: Bad Religion – God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (from Christmas Songs, Epitaph, Out now]
R: Now this is a Christmas cover.
D: I could imagine falling off a table to this.
K: I’d definitely play this album at Christmas. I think it’s really fun.
R: Do you think McBusted will do a Christmas album?
D: I don’t want to talk about that…
K: I think that one has to get 10.

[written for the December issue of The Skinny]

Monday, 23 December 2013

The Skinny's Films of 2013

The current issue of The Skinny includes the film team's top movies of the year - a rather good list if you ask me...

1. Before Midnight (dir. Richard Linklater)
2. Frances Ha (dir. Noah Baumbach)
3. The Selfish Giant (dir. Clio Barnard)
4. Wadjda (dir. Haifaa Al-Mansour)
5. Spring Breakers (dir. Harmony Korine)
6. The Act of Killing (dir. Joshua Oppenheimer)
7. Gravity (dir. Alfonso Cuaron)
8. Zero Dark Thirty (dir. Kathryn Bigelow)
9. Beyond the Hills (dir. Cristian Mungiu)
10. Ain't Them Bodies Saints (dir. David Lowery)

And I wrote a couple of wee right-ups for numbers 2 and 8.

Zero Dark Thirty
Incurring criticism from both ends of the political spectrum, director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal’s forensic dramatisation of the decade-long hunt for Osama Bin Laden proved something of an ideological Rorschach test: torture apologia to some, soft liberal indictment to others. Fittingly, the film’s true character lies somewhere in the murky, contestable hinterland, with more room for debate than either flank of the anti-ZDT pincer allowed, as Jessica Chastain’s hard-nosed CIA agent homes in on her elusive white whale. For all its simplifications and elisions, it’s a marvel of narrative engineering, with years of global turbulence and knotty sleuthing trimmed to fit a thriller format that rivets in the moment but leaves you chewing over its content long after.

Frances Ha
Visiting her former roommate Frances’s new dwellings – dwellings that change multiple times during Frances Ha, as the eponymous 27-year-old drifts across the five boroughs and beyond – BFF Sophie delivers one of the film’s numerous arch zingers: “This apartment is very… aware of itself,” she sniffs. The same could be said, less derisorily, for Noah Baumbach’s seventh feature, which self-consciously offers familiarity in its themes (everyday embarrassment and the quarter-life crisis) and execution (with a monochrome NYC underscoring the Woody Allen parallels). But in the title role, co-screenwriter Greta Gerwig offers something fresh: not that indie staple of a kooky fantasy to fall for, but a gauchely charming hero to root for, with neuroses balanced by a vibrant joie de vivre.  

Saturday, 21 December 2013

our christmas playlist!

Thanks to everyone who joined us for last night's festive bottle rocket - ceilidh dancing to the pogues was a definite highlight!  Here's what we played...

1. Crocodiles - Cockroach
2. T-Rex - Christmas Bop
3. Tom Tom Club - Genius of Love
4. Au Revoir Simone - Fallen Snow
5. Siouxie and the Banshees - Happy House
6. Violens - Violent Sensation Descends
7. Limited - You Must Be Dreaming
8. The Cure - A Forest
9. Depeche Mode - People are People
10. Aztec Camera - Walk Out to Winter
11. XTC - Thanks for Christmas
12. Tom Petty - Christmas All Over Again
13. Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks - Senator
14. Veronica Falls - Waiting for Something to Happen
15. Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin - Young Presidents
16. Okkervil River - Money Changes Everything
17. Low- Just Like Christmas
18. Purity Ring - Fineshrine
19. Femme - Fever Boy
20. Dum Dum Girls - Rimbaud Eyes
21. Kim Wilde - Chequered Love
22. The Ramones - Merry Christmas (I Don't Want to Fight Tonight)
23. Pixies - Here Comes Your Man
24. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Heads Will Roll
25. Chvrches - Gun
26. St Etienne - Join Our Club
27. The Lovin' Spoonful - Do You Believe in Magic?
28. Parquet Courts - Master of My Craft
29. Modern Lovers - Astral Plane
30. The Replacements - Bastards of Young
31. David Bowie - Let's Dance
32. Donna Summer - I Feel Love
33. Blondie - Rapture
34. Future Bible Heroes - Don't You Want Me
35. S'Express - Theme from S'Express
36. The B-52s - 52 Girls
37. Vampire Weekend - Worship You
38. The Waitresses - Christmas Wrapping
39. Janelle Monae - Dance Apocalyptic
40. Suede - Animal Nitrate
41. Idlewild - When I Argue I See Shapes
42. Kenickie - Punka
43. Tears for Fears - Mad World
44. Brenda Lee - Rocking Around the Christmas Tree
45. The Ronettes - Sleigh Ride
46. Marlene Paul - I Wanna Spend Christmas with Elvis
47. Elvis - In the Ghetto
48. David Bowie - Modern Love
49. Billy Idol - Dancing with Myself
50. Ian Dury - Blockheads
51. Rocket from the Crypt - Young Livers
52. Cindy & Bert - Der Hund Von Baskerville
53. Clarence Carter - Back Door Santa
54. Beastie Boys - Intergalactic
55. Sly and the Family Stone - Sing a Simple Song
56. The Velvet Underground - What Goes On
57. Electronic - Getting Away with It
58. The Bangles - Hazy Shade of Winter
59. Maximo Park - Our Velocity
60. X-Ray Spex - Identity
61. The Hives - Hate to Say I Told You So
62. Mariah Carey - All I Want for Christmas
63. Michael Jackson - Beat It
64. Pet Shop Boys - Always on My Mind
65. Nena - 99 Luftballons
66. The Pogues - Fairytale of New York

Friday, 20 December 2013


11pm to 3am, the flying duck, glasgow, awesome christmas party fun!

Thursday, 19 December 2013

album reviews: Shearwater, Destroyer, Adrian Crowley & James Yorkston

                                          Shearwater – Fellow Travellers

Shearwater - Fellow Travellers (***)

Like live albums and B-side compilations, cover version LPs usually occupy a fringe position in an artist’s discography, and Fellow Travellers is no different. But as far as stopgaps go – bridging last year’s Animal Joy and next year’s in-the-works follow-up – Shearwater’s ten-song tribute to/collaboration with past touring partners is more attractive than most. 

Few recordings rival the originals, but usually offer something of interest: for example, a take on Xiu Xiu’s I Luv the Valley OH! doesn’t come close to the original’s intensity, but fashions a more conventional rock song out of the ingredients; similarly, St Vincent’s Cheerleader loses a lot of its poignancy in translation, but at least the gender switch invites new lyrical resonances. Less effective is a cover of Clinic’s Tomorrow, which smudges the original’s cold precision without subbing in any distinct character of its own, making Fellow Travellers a mixed bag in terms of quality as well as source material. 

Out now

                                           Destroyer – Five Spanish Songs

Destroyer - Five Spanish Songs (****)

With Dan Bejar’s piquant way with words a substantial part of Destroyer’s appeal, Five Spanish Songs may herald disappointment for those who don’t share the Canadian’s bilingual abilities. The result of waning interest in English’s expressive possibilities, it sees Bejar sing in the tongue of another in two senses – not only switching language, but covering songs by Seville songwriter Antonio Luque of Sr. Chinarro. 

Still, even a relatively inessential Destroyer release stands head and shoulders above most else, and Five Spanish Songs is no different. Kaputt’s delectable lounge vibe cedes to a greater stylistic variety – from the glam-rock guitars of El Rito to the airy whisper of Bye Bye – and if the EP’s primary goal was to revitalise Bejar’s muse, its collateral pleasures are not inconsiderable.

Out now

                                              Adrian Crowley & James Yorkston – My Yoke Is Heavy: The Songs of Daniel Johnston

Adrian Crowley & James Yorkston - My Yoke is Heavy: The Songs of Daniel Johnston (****)

Four years after its initial low-key release, Adrian Crowley and James Yorkston’s homage to Daniel Johnston is made widely available for the first time. With its parcel-taped sleeve and hand-written inlay, the original run’s presentation (99 CD-Rs sold at Fence’s Homegame festival) neatly befitted the music: eight evocative home-recordings that echo Johnston’s lo-fi tendencies whilst approximating his indelible mix of romanticism, surrealism and wistfulness. 

The re-release may disperse some of that intimate, contextual aura, but otherwise the mini-album’s understated qualities remain sharp. Focussing on the decade in which Johnston’s legend was formed (i.e. the string of self-released cassettes and early studio dabblings produced in the 80s), Crowley and Yorkston imbue their reconstructions with nice atmospheric touches, from the echoes and vinyl crackle of True Love... to the clicks and whistles permeating Like a Monkey in a Zoo. Consequently the songs charm and haunt anew, making My Yoke is Heavy a joy for Johnston fans of all stripes.

Out now

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

DVD review: Gaslight

Upon acquiring the rights to Patrick Hamilton’s play Gas Light, MGM set about wiping the slate in preparation for their George Cukor-directed, Ingrid Bergman-starring 1944 adaptation. Unfortunately, that meant suppressing almost to elimination a British version made four years prior, with this handsome restoration – the first time the film has been available on DVD – only possible thanks to a single print preserved by its director Thorold Dickinson, and later gifted to the BFI.

While it lacks its Hollywood successor’s budget and glamour, the limitations rather suit the tale’s clammy claustrophobia, as newlywed Bella (a fragile Diana Wynward) is made to question her sanity by husband Paul (a cruel Anton Walbrook). Despite an undisguised staginess and sometimes clunky structure, the material still unnerves, with the abruptness of the opening murder and the mind games of the last act proving particularly effective, making this of interest to more than just film historians.

Out now

Monday, 16 December 2013

this friday!

Right: the tree’s up, the presents are bought, you’ve dusted down your novelty jumper for its annual airing and you’ve made it through the office party unscathed (unless it’s still to come, in which case: good luck!). Next on the big list of essential ingredients for a super-awesome Christmas? Why, it’s a festive bottle rocket of course! 

It’s our first yule party in the Flying Duck’s cosy surroundings, and we’ll do our darnedest to make it a good un, with the usual mix of indie, rock n roll, new wave, pop, post-punk and what-not, plus a liberal sprinkling of seasonal treats.

The bottom line:


Thursday, 12 December 2013

live review: Rocket from the Crypt / The Computers @ The Classic Grand, Glasgow, 3rd December

With image, schtick and sound all displaying a clear debt to the night’s headliners, The Computers tackle their support duties like enthusiastic understudies. Whether clambering up the back wall with mic stand in hand or grabbing hold of crowd members and waltzing them up and down the venue, frontman Alex Kershaw gamely does everything in his power to raise the room’s energy levels. While their rip-roaring, retro rock n roll has a tendency towards the slickly generic, their showmanship is seriously impressive.
Rocket from the Crypt know a thing or two about showmanship themselves. Dressed in matching mariachi threads, the reformed San Diegan rockers are on devilishly fine form, their high-voltage garage punk immune to the passing of time and played as it should be: fast, loud and intense. At their centre, roguish ringmaster John ‘Speedo’ Reis carries himself with a zeal that’s part Vegas hawker, part evangelical preacher, his fanciful metaphors and witty self-aggrandizement making the gaps between songs almost as anticipated as each fresh blast of horn-backed greaser rock.
A mid-set run through Scream Dracula Scream’s opening quartet (from Middle to Young Livers via twin anthems Born in 69’ and On a Rope) garners the most enthusiastic response, though there are plenty other air-punching highlights, from Carne Voodoo’s dirty swagger to Dick on a Dog in the encore (though not, incidentally, theirrecent Baker Street cover, dismissed as “a novelty item”). “We’re pretty good!” barks Speedo in the set’s home stretch, motioning to their sparkly, name-emblazoned backdrop. “C’mon, that’s a pretty good band!” Listen to the man – he knows what he’s talking about.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

live review: The Dismemberment Plan / Great Cop @ Stereo, 28th November

With a Fugazi-referencing moniker and a Hüsker Dü‎ cover centre of tonight’s set, Great Cop aren’t coy about their influences. As interlocking guitars trade tight riffs, the Glasgow quartet’s inexhaustible and trouserless drummer Joe Campbell batters out full-on fills, and the combination rattles the viscera with such force that its recycled nature barely registers.

Shortly before The Dismemberment Plan make their live return, the room goes expectantly still, mistaking last-minute tunings and tweaks for a band ready to start. “Um, we’ll be ready soon” chirps frontman Travis Morrison, gently diffusing the premature hush. But the crowds’ eagerness is understandable. It’s been 12 years since D-Plan last played Glasgow, with this their first post-reformation visit; as such, there’s much to catch up on.

Despite its relatively lukewarm reception earlier in the year, cuts from Uncanny Valley stand up well in tonight’s set. From the giddy loops of opener Invisible to the wonky disco syncopations of Mexico City Christmas, the fruits of their reunion fit in seamlessly amongst the longer-cherished likes of Gyroscope (which triggers the first mass sing-along) and crisp relationship opus Ellen and Ben; in fact, the only jarringly ‘modern’ moment comes in the encore, when a slither of Lorde’s Royals interrupts a noisy finale.

Throughout, Morrison is an endearingly off-kilter performer, ramping up the stuttering madness of Girl O’Clock and grinning away when fans start respectfully shoving his slight frame around the stage during The Ice of Boston. This mix of musical idiosyncrasies and affable charm summarises their cult appeal, and makes tonight a real pleasure.