Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Slide Away

As seen on another blog that I would link to if it wasn't "members only".

Monday, December 28, 2009

The 2009 Jock Awards

I'm sprawled on the couch at Dungroanin', enjoying the post-festive lull, so it seems the ideal time to host the awards ceremony no-one is waiting for, the 2009 Jock Awards.

The Stone Roses award for Album of The Year: (Nominees: The Decemberists - The Hazards of Love; Manic Street Preachers - Journal For Plague Lovers, Doves - Kingdom of Rust; The Prodigy - Invaders Must Die; Kasabian - West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum)
A few weeks back, I was discussing the year's best albums with a couple of friends. At that time, I was fairly certain it had been a pretty poor year for records. But looking back through the Magic Tune Box, it seems I'd simply forgotten that a number of pretty darn good albums were released this year. Of the five best, I'm torn between The Decemberists' folk concept album, Doves' grandiose indie guitar and The Prodigy's startling return to form. Pushed for a decision, I'd have to go with The Decemberists and their woodlands-based tale of a lady called Margaret.

The Strawberry Fields Forever award for Single of The Year: (Nominees: The Prodigy - Warrior's Dance; Kasabian - Underdog; Gossip - Heavy Cross; Lily Allen - The Fear; Florence and The Machine - You've Got The Love)
Just as The Verve's Love Is Noise soundtracked my summer in 2008, Kasabian's Underdog was my tune of choice for most of this year. Chiming guitars, heavy beats and a sound taking the Madchester sound forward again, no other track inspired me the way that the first glimpse of Kasabian's latest lunacy did.

The Rolling Stones award for Live Act of The Year: (Nominees: Take That, Neil Young, AC/DC, Them Crooked Vultures, Jane's Addiction)
If this was a bumper year for albums, it was a phenomenal year for live music. This was the year I saw Neil Young and AC/DC for the first time, as well as the disappointment of Dylan. Take That's show was head and shoulders the most complex I've ever seen, eclipsing even The Rolling Stones and U2, while AC/DC pulled off stadium rock with the ease of grizzled veterans. But the single greatest performance was Neil Young's at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre. A "best of" set that found Mr Young in sparkling form, he was phenomenal from start to finish, climaxing with a howling take on The Beatles' A Day In The Life.

The Goodfellas Award for Movie of the Year: (Nominees: Paranormal Activity; Watchmen; Star Trek; The Boat That Rocked)
Mrs Wife and I haven't been to the cinema as often as normal this year, and we wasted two cinema trips on the disappointing Transformers 2 and Terminator: Salvation. And we still haven't seen Avatar or Sherlock Holmes. My choice for movie of the year would be Paranormal Activity, proving that you don't need a multi-million dollar budget to keep your audience on the edge of their seats.

The Knight Rider award for TV Programme of The Year: (Nominees: Fringe; True Blood; Spooks; Generation Kill; FlashForward)
Another good year for television and justification for owning a Sky+ box. Most of the really good stuff continues to come from across the Atlantic, and it was True Blood, the televised adaptation of the Sookie Stackhouse novels, that led the way. I've always been a sucker for a vampire story set in the modern age, from The Littlest Vampire through The Lost Boys and onwards. True Blood just continued the trend.

The Marilyn Monroe award for Babe of The Year: (Nominees: Salma Hayek; Nadine Coyle; Cheryle Cole; Beyonce Knowles; Michelle Keegan)
Assuming, as always, that Mrs Wife is the genuine winner of this category from now until the end of the Blogosphere, I'd happily take any of the above nominees as runner-up (or all five together with whipped cream and chocolate sauce). But for the sake of handing out the gong, it's Salma Hayek who walks away as the "winner".

The Jet Set Willy Award for Computer Game of The Year: (Nominees: Football Manager 2010; Rock Band)
The only guaranteed shoo-in of all the awards, Football Manager continues to go from strength to strength, this year with an overhaul of its match engine and the ability to create competitions - the Scottish League pyramid system created by one gifted fan is simply amazing.

The Godfather III award for Biggest Disappointment of The Year: (Nominees: The death of Michael Jackson; Bob Dylan live; Transformers 2; Arctic Monkeys' third album)
Bob Dylan was horrendous live. Of all the concerts I saw this year, that was by far the worst. But the biggest disappointment of the year was undoubtedly the passing of the King of Pop, barely weeks before Mrs Wife and I were due to see him perform in London. We still had a great holiday in the Big Smoke, but his demise left a huge gap in our year and in the music world.

The Screamadelica award for Scottish Album of The Year: (Nominee: Miyagi - Scalextro South Americana)
I'm struggling to think of any notable contributions from north of the border, so this year's award goes to Miyagi, even if a four-track EP scarcely counts as an album. An odd mix of instruments harnessed together for a fantastic ensemble sound.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Vultures Circling

Mrs Wife and I made the long, dark journey to Edinburgh last night to bask in the glow that only true legends can truly provide.
This was no mere journey to a gig - this was a chance to get up close and personal with genuine living, breathing rock behemoths the likes of which venture only rarely to these frozen Arctic wastelands.
The term supergroup has been used to describe Them Crooked Vultures since the moment they formed. Bring together Nirvana's drummer, Queens of the Stone Age's singer/guitarist and - the crowning achievement (in the eyes of many) - Led Zeppelin's bass player, and it becomes almost inevitable.
In truth, regarding Josh Homme as being in the same league as Messrs Grohl and Jones is a tad unrealistic, but the three certainly seem to be the best of friends.
I'd forgotten just how powerful a drummer Dave Grohl is. Only once before had I seen him behind a kit in the flesh, and it was for only five minutes during a Foo Fighters festival set.
But last night, in the comparatively small Corn Exchange, there was a chance to see him thump the tubs for the duration of a full concert.
A lot of the time, he's like Animal from the Muppets, wildly flailing arms, head bobbing furiously and a huge grin covering half his face. If there can be such a thing as controlled ferocity, Dave Grohl personifies it. His drumming literally sounded like artillery fire at times, yet there was never a dropped beat. On the sleazy flamenco of Interlude With Ludes, his rhythm became even more complex, seeming to involve wooden blocks and rim shots (behave) as well as cymbals.
Although Homme and live guitarist Alain Johannes contributed most to the vocals and guitars, the more obvious attention-grabber was John Paul Jones. These days, worryingly, he looks more like my mum's 50-something partner than half of the rhythm section from the most legendary groupie-shagging, devil-worshipping, drug-imbibing rock band this planet has ever seen.
But he can still play. There were nimble-fingered jazz-flecked bass solos, tender piano instrumentals, a whole track where he played only keytar and a general air of mild bemusement at the sheer awe with which the assembled fans greeted him.
The music? It sounded like Queens of the Stone Age with the fat stripped off - lean, heavy and loud. The band has far more character and gravitas on stage than was evident on its album.
Watch out for them coming to a festival near you next year.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Season 2009/2010: Match 6: Montrose v Annan Athletic

Some 0-0 draws feel like 0-0 draws from start to finish - few chances, aimless football lacking passion, skill and commitment from both sides and a feeling that 90 minutes is slowly turning into 90 turgid weeks.

Today's match at Links Park may have been a 0-0 draw, but it was entertaining from start until finish, both sides pressing forwards in the hunt for goals.

Montrose hit the crossbar, Annan twice hit the post, Daryl Nicol sent a shot over the crossbar from six yards out - in short, there was no shortage of chances.

Annan started the match with three former Montrose players in their side, but Greg Kelly, David Cox and Scott Anson went back to the borders with only a point. There were also three ex-Hibs players on show, in the forms of Montrose goalkeeper Andrew McNeil, who was outstanding, pulling off a series of acrobatic saves; Montrose player-manager Steven Tweed, who has looked increasingly confident over the past few weeks; and Derek Townsley, acting as player and assistant manager to Brechin City legend Harry Cairney.

Missing out on a first league win was a disappointment, but a point is still a welcome step forward. Montrose are definitely going to finish bottom of the bottom division this season, so now should be the time for getting a solid and experienced team set up for next season. Positive signs are beginning to show themselves, with a defence that is becoming harder to break down and a midfield with a good blend of grit and class. The attack still needs work, but I'm optimistic that the second half of the season can't possibly be as bad as the first....