Thursday, 6 April 2017

Because I'm Worthless

There are only three things in the world that I hate, and here are three more of them.

Everyone is justifiably annoyed at that idiotic Pepsi advert, when clearly the most effective way to advertise Pepsi would just be to say it's cheaper than Coke.

But when you live at the cinema like me, you see worse adverts than that every day. So here are three more shitverts - shampoo edition!


The first shampoo with a brain. More than can be said for whoever came up with that.


Shoulders carry the promise of late nights you'll never forget. Catchy. They'll all be yelling that one in the playground.


An advert supposedly championing inclusivity and difference that exclusively features conventionally attractive people. Facile slogans about self-confidence do not change the fact that as a cosmetics company you're in the business of telling people to look better.

On that angry note, I'll leave you with a Jane's Addiction song about showering.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Beware the Ides of March

As you know, I love everything in the world, with the exception of three things. One of those things that I love is the Grateful Dead.

Looking back on this day in history, 15 March is a significant date for a number of reasons. For starters, it's the Ides of March, which was the day in 44 BC when Julius Caesar was stabbed in the base of the Curia - ouch! More recently, it's also the birthday of two of my favourite people: Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh and genius filmmaker David Cronenberg. Long live the new Lesh! Plus, the movie The Godfather was first released on this day in 1972, directed by Deadhead Francis Ford Coppola - after seeing a Grateful Dead show in 1979, he was inspired by the rolling thunder effect of the two drummers, and enlisted them to play on the Apocalypse Now soundtrack. Which brings me to the point: on this day in Dead history, the band made one of their more bizarre appearances back in 1969.

Picture the scene: you're invited to The Black & White Ball at the San Francisco Hilton, a fundraiser for the San Francisco Symphony. A group of hippies shamble onto the stage, plug in their instruments and unleash a cacophony of baroque psychedelia and a song about trying to sleep with a 17-year-old girl. 

They were never invited back.

The complete setlist is uncertain, but what exists is this electrifying recording, taped by countercultural icon Owsley "Bear" Stanley - more on him another time. The tape begins with a fairly shambolic version of Otis Redding's Hard to Handle, which they'd never played live before, and by the sounds of it, never practised much either. Things pick up with Good Morning Little Schoolgirl, a perfectly acceptable subject to sing about in the '60s, before the boys launch into their typical 1969 run of Dark Star -> St. Stephen -> The Eleven -> Lovelight. And it's glorious - particularly The Eleven, a song I've written about before. Despite a cut in the recording at the start of the track, this is up there with the best they ever played it - an electric dose of colourful improvisation in 11/8 time. Just imagine going to a black tie event 28 years ago today, and being confronted with that.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

The Slogan

There are only three things in the world that I hate, and here are three more of them.

It's time for another month of awful adverts - terrible tagline edition!


Not only does this Coke advert feature the worst song ever recorded, it also includes one of the worst slogans: 'Taste The Feeling.' Gross. I think 'Tasty Feeling' would have made more sense.


Speaking of not making sense, Stella Artois appear to have adopted the nonsense tagline: 'Be Legacy.' Even worse is the way alcohol adverts are now obsessed with telling us their founder's backstory, as though anyone cares about booze beyond: "Will it get me drunk or not?"


This type of ironic voice-over does cause in me the kind of visceral reaction I associate with Subway, but I also think 'Keep Discovering' is a blatantly bad slogan for a sandwich shop. In fact it's probably the worst possible slogan for a sandwich shop, except maybe: 'Our sandwiches are full of blood.'

I'll leave you with Somewhere in the Between by Streetlight Manifesto, an album celebrating its 10th anniversary and still one of my favourites.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Fried Neckbones

There are only three things in the world that I hate, and here are five more of them.

I'm talking about adverts again. But aren't there worse things to be worrying about? Yes.


I'm no advertising expert, but I have seen every episode of Mad Men, and I'm pretty sure it's a bad idea to keep repeating that there are chicken beaks in your food. What I take away from that advert isn't the actor pretending to be a 'food quality inspector', but the thought that there are definitely 100% guaranteed chicken feet in McNuggets.


Similarly, I'd avoid phrases like "We are thoughtless" or "We are cruel" when trying to make people trust me with their money. Just a thought.


I couldn't find the particularly awful Dove advert I was looking for, but this one suggesting that you can shower in 13 seconds is either very stupid or aimed solely at Quicksilver from the X-Men.


There's something not quite right about this one. I can't put my finger on it. Is it the eerie sci-fi music? The creepy whispered voice-over? Oh I know, it's because it's an advert about HEATING CHILDREN'S ARSES.


And the award for the world's most cynical advert goes to Amazon Prime! Congratulations Amazon, you win a trophy full of sick.

Here's Santana.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

3 To 1

There are only three things in the world that I hate, and one of them is people making the same tedious observation about 2016 being a bit rubbish.

Speaking of things no one cares about, here (in no particular order) are my top 3 albums of 2016.

The Mountain Will Fall - DJ Shadow

This year I got to see one of my musical heroes play live, and DJ Shadow did not disappoint. In fact he was one of the best live acts I've ever seen, with incredible visuals surrounding him. I even shook his hand, so if anyone wants to touch my hand in turn please do let me know. Shadow's new album The Mountain Will Fall sees the trip-hop pioneer continue to push himself into new realms of electronic music, with hip-hop, jazz and euphoria vying for space on the record. The album also gave us one of the best music videos of the year:

Gore - Deftones

In 2016 I finally got to see Deftones, and they also turned out to be one of the best live acts I've ever experienced. Their music is bludgeoning, beautiful and completely transcendent, all illusatrated on their new album Gore. Not only is the opening cut Prayers/Triangles an amazing way to start an album, the track Doomed User is one of the best songs they've ever recorded. I still don't have a clue what Chino Moreno is singing about most of the time, but I can highly recommend running while listening to Deftones; it's like being chased by wraiths.

Three - Blue Man Group

It was always my dream to become a Blue Man (like my other hero, Tobias F√ľnke) or one of their neon-clad drummers. They're best known for their internationally phenomenal live shows that combine music, comedy and technology to explore a variety of ideas, including otherness as represented by these blue-skinned outsiders. But they also produce highly innovative studio records using many musical instruments of their own invention, often involving hitting PVC pipes to create a strange, melodic, percussive sound. Three is so-called because it's their third album and the Blue Men always appear in threes, and it features more of the same rhythmic alien rock. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

The Eleven

"Nobody likes jazz that much... even the guy playing it had to take drugs!"

As you know, I love everything in the world, with the exception of three things. One of those things that I love is songs in 11/8 (or 11/4).

Where would we be without the number 11? Danny Ocean would be bereft of a crew. Spinal Tap's amps would have nowhere to go. [Insert football player - do not forget to come back to this] would have to run around with a different number on his football jersey. But most of all, we'd be without these 5 groovy songs written in the time signature 11/8 (or 11/4) just to be difficult.

Eleven Four - The Dave Brubeck Quartet (1962)

With the possible exception of Stephen Hawking, nobody knows time like Dave Brubeck. The cool-jazz pioneer seemed allergic to straightforward time signatures, resulting in classics like Take Five (which is a pun) and saxophonist Paul Desmond's Eleven Four (which is not).

Eleven - Primus (1991)

This typically disonant track by bass-driven avant-garde rock band Primus showcases Les Claypool's muscular bass riffs, Tim "Herb" Alexander's rolling drum beats and Larry LaLonde's screaming guitar work, with non-conformist lyrics and time signatures.

I Say a Little Prayer - Aretha Franklin (1968)

Although originally recorded by Dionne Warwick, it's Aretha Franklin's version that reigns supreme thanks to soulful vocals and melodic arrangements. The chorus uses an 11-count, proving that it's not just for pretentious jazz and druggy metal.

Whipping Post - The Allman Brothers Band (1971)

I think this blog is really about my music taste being all over the place. In any case, Gregg Allman's blistering Whipping Post riff is written in 11/4 and is well worth a listen if you have 23 minutes to spare. No? Fair enough.

The Eleven - Grateful Dead (1969)

Because I'm incapable of writing a blog or holding a conversation without mentioning the Grateful Dead, check out the scorching beauty of this psychedelic masterpiece and its trippy lyrics. I'm not entirely sure what a "jingle bell rainbow" is, but I'd very much like to find out. 

An honourable mention goes to Hey Ya! by OutKast (2003), for being (presumably) the only number 1 single with an 11-count. The Mario Kart 64 (1996) results screen music also demonstrates the versatility of my favourite time signature. 

A better blogger would have listed 11 examples. Or at least published this blog on the 8th November. Or even just explained what 11/8 actually means. But ironically, I don't have time.


Wednesday, 26 October 2016

It doesn't make any sense!

There are only three things in the world that I hate, and one of them is adverts that don't make any sense. 

No, we do not get dressed every day. We're not in the army.

No, we have not forgotten about TalkTalk's mass negligence. And no amount of pandering is going to trick us.

No, Adam and Toni are not taking part in a social experiment. They're taking part in an advert.

Here's Kyuss.