Sunday, December 28, 2008

Kingston Lord

0 comments
A few weeks ago, we were thinking of going to a gig in Kingston, because it featured our new favourite band, Tubelord. And after a few google searches and e-mail rendezvous with the band, we managed to get to the gig, which was said to be pretty much invite-only.

But then we came to the pub/venue, and we didn't have any trouble getting in. They didn't ask for names, but they did ask for proof of age, since it was an over-18 venue.

Pretty much everyone there knew each other. I think it was supposed to be just a local gig, with local bands (except for Blakfish who came all the way from Birmingham) and their friends.

First to perform was mistakes.in.animation. They were okay, but the vocals got drowned out by the music. And it paled in comparison with the other three bands that were to come.

Mistakes.in.animation (Click for myspace)

Next was Blakfish. Who was amazing.

Blakfish (click for myspace)

After Blakfish was the reason we came all the way to Kingston in the first place. Tube-fucking-lord. They were awesome. The crowd went wild. The finale of "I Am Azerrad" was immense.



Then came Colour, a band I didn't know much about or listened to. They were well brilliant. "Unicorns" is an amazing tune.

Colour (click for myspace)

When we were going out of the Fighting Cocks (yes, that's the name of the place) we managed to stumble onto Blakfish on the way. And at the pub they were singing along to Metallica's "Nothing Else Matters."

And here's another photo from Kingston.

Amused?

Signing out

Over and out

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Time Of Foals

0 comments
I really can't wait. After what was a frustrating week, this week I've got them to look forward to:


A sonic fits of math rock and psychedelic pop with a dash of dance punk, techno and minimalism, their music is as catchy as a mutated flu, with lyrics that are as escapist as they are incomprehensible. I've mentioned Foals before on this blog. Like all Foals videos, this one is as incomprehensible as their lyrics.


Foals - Balloons

Hailing from Oxford (some of them studied at the University too) they came out with one of the best debut albums this year, Antidotes. Their music borders on instrumentalism, with the vocals rather than serving as a verbal expressive become a part of the sonic audio attack, especially in 'Red Socks Pugie' and 'The French Open.'

I'm going to see them this weekend at the sold-out show in The Carling Academy, Oxford. Just so long as my allowance doesn't get delayed by another week. Oh, by the way, click on the photo to go to the band's official website, and here for their myspace.

Signing out

Over and out

----------------
Now playing: Foals - Big Big Love (Fig. 2)
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Review: Harman Kardon Go + Play iPod Dock

0 comments
Device: Harman Kardon Go+Play iPod Dock
Manufacturer: Harman Kardon
Rating: 4 out of 5

I don't need much in my speakers: amazing sound, amazing looks, simplicity, and plays with my laptop.

With that in mind, this sexy beast is the perfect thing for me.

First, the looks. It looks beautiful. Look at it making love to my iPod Touch. The stainless steel arch, the matte black finish. Simple, yet so elegant. If there was ever a boombox for the arty, this is it. Its retro-futuristic style is what I expect from Harman Kardon, which is known for making some of the best-looking speakers out there.

Second, the sound. Out of the box, it sounds amazing. Out of any of the portable iPod docks I've heard, this is the best. You don't need to adjust anything. The sound balance is just right. That's just as well, because you can't adjust the treble and bass levels from the speakers itself. There're only three buttons: the power button, and the two volume buttons. This might be a problem for some, but for me, it's too minor. It sounds awesome to begin with, you don't really have to change anything. This thing is much louder than my JBL Creature II (which I love to bits), and sounds much better.

Third, the features. It's got an RF remote, which means you don't have to point to the speakers to use it. The plastic feels a bit cheap compared to the speakers, and when you try to navigate through your iPod, the whole thing turns into a complex mess. But then it's got a compartment at the back for the remote, which hides it if you give up trying to learn how the iPod navigation works.

One thing that annoys me is how my iPod Touch doesn't fully fit into the dock. It's supposed to charge most iPods, and from what I've heard, it does. But the charge function doesn't work on iPod Touch. Which sucks, because that's what I happen to have. And because it's supposed to lie down in the dock, you can't see the iPod menu from faraway. Which renders the iPod remote navigation useless. And even if you look at it from a bird's eye view, the handle gets in the way. The handle also gets in the way when you want to navigate through your iPod with your hands. But you can connect the system to your computer and sync your iPod through the system.

Overall, this is an amazing system. A bit pricey for some people. After postage and VAT, I paid about £180. And that's the cheapest I could find. The simplicity will attract some, and repel others.

If you have the money to spend and looking for a super-stylish, beautiful audio and an iPod dock (note: it does not charge iPod touch) that does not require complex setting-up and knob fiddling, this is for you.
Included with the device:
A/C Adapter
RF Remote
3.5mm auxilliary input with cable
8 iPod dock adaptors, for all iPods
iPod Nano and iPod Mini plastic safeguards
S-Video port (for watching anything from your iPod on a TV)
Can run on batteries

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Blink

0 comments
A few months ago, Travis Barker, the drummer for +44 and Blink 182, and his friend DJ AM, almost died in a plane crash that killed four people. Yet out of this tragic circumstance comes a silver lining.

Tom, Mark and Travis have spoken again, after four years.

Here's Mark talking about it.

It's not clear whether they have talked about a Blink 182 reunion. It's too early to tell. I've already given up before this little glimmer of hope. I didn't think they were ever going to go back together. Now I'm just crossing my fingers.

Blink 182, for all their pre-pubescent humour and power pop catchiness, influenced who I am today. Their tunes were contagious and infectious. Their college humour, seemingly immature at first, represented a refusal to embrace the norms of the grown-up stereotypes, a rebellion against society's demands for everyone to leave their inner youth. Yet their last self-titled album pointed to a growing maturity that though not quite adult, revealed a side to them that knew they were not going to be young forever.

Tom ran away towards that direction sprinting, forming the ambitious Angels & Airwaves. Mark and Travis, shocked by Tom's departure, formed what some would call a mature version of Blink 182, +44. Opinions were divided between fans which were better, and some even refused to acknowledge the existence or the talent of the two, unable to let go of Blink 182.

I don't know what to expect. I just won't let my hopes up.

Signing out

Over and out

Saturday, November 15, 2008

No Pins Allowed

0 comments
A bit of a filler.

James Yuill - No Pins Allowed


I'll update soon.

Signing out

Over and out

Friday, November 14, 2008

Review: iPod Touch 2G 32GB

0 comments
I love this thing. It looks beautiful naked. It does.

But I'm a bit paranoid right now, since for some reason the back of it is scratched, so inside the Belkin you shall be, my pretty one.

I'm in love with my iPod Touch. This is stupid, but I think I am. I'm sorry, Pill, I've got a replacement for you, and it can sing me five thousand different songs. Can you do that, Pill?

Hahahahaha.

I think I'm going to review this. Promise, no bias.
Device: iPod Touch
Version: 2nd-Generation
Size: 32gb
Manufacturer: Apple
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

For people who think iPods are just about the hype, you are missing the point. The hype is not the reason the iPod is so successful. The iPod is successful because it is brilliant at whatever it does, and that in turn generates an amazing amount of hype.

Observe, the 2nd-generation iPod Touch. It's beatiful to look at, with it's glossy black exterior that looks simple yet elegant at the same time. The screen is vivid and bright. The only buttons are the one in the centre, and the volume control at the side which wasn't on the first one.

People who don't understand the iPod say that a lot of other things can do what the iPod do. Other mp3 players can play music. Other players have touch screen. Other players have video playback. And some have WiFi connectivity. And some do things better than the iPod.

But then with these other devices, they usually have strengths in one aspect and lacking in another. The iPod does everything it wants to do very, very well. The touch screen is responsive. The interface is extremely intuitive and the multi-touch is exceptional. The menu is easy to navigate through.

The Safari browser is really good. Looking at full websites are easy, and it reads pdf files (!). It's reasonably quick. A bonus is that you can watch videos on Youtube, a major plus you rarely get in any other similar devices.

The Genius function may seem disposable at first, but then when you really start to use it, then you realise how convenient this powerful tool can be. No more having to create playlists on the go when you suddenly feel the urge to listen to a kind of music. The Genius does it for you. Trust me, you'll love Genius. But be aware, you need a fairly large music collection for it to really work well. It works better if you give it more songs to choose from and work with.

The App Store is another highlight. You can add a lot of functionality to your iPod Touch. Things like Google Earth, GPS, eBay, PayPal, internet radio and graphic calculators are free of charge to download.

Most people know the Touch has got a built-in accelerometer, and this comes in very handy when you want to watch films or type something, because the touch keyboard can get tricky when the iPod is vertical. It's also very good fun when you're playing games. There's a game called iBaseball (App Store) that requires you to hold the iPod Touch like a bat. Like a Wii almost.

With my Bose headphones, the music quality is really good. It's a major step-up from my Sony Ericsson phone (obviously).

Apparently it's got a Nike+ feature, but I don't have Nike+ sneakers, so I have yet to try that. Might be an excuse for me to start jogging. Hahahaha.

There are a few imperfections though. Being connected to a WiFi networks seems to drain the power a lot quicker than usual. And I notice that when the iPod is connected to the laptop and you're browsing your music, sometimes the screen would go black and go back to the main menu. These are really very minor flaws, and easy to overlook.

In short, the iPod Touch is intuitive, extremely responsive, looks and sounds good, and has those extras you won't get anywhere else. And believe me, these extras will become indispensable after you get used to them.

Signing out

Over and out

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Lord Of The Tube

0 comments
Tubelord

Today I found an insanely addictive band called Tubelord. It's just so contagious. Tubelord is almost like a hyperactive version of Foals.

Tubelord - Feed Me A Box Of Words


Damn it, Jay! Stop posting music!

Signing out

Over and out

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Escapism In Plans

0 comments

The Streets - The Escapist

When it comes to hip hop I guess I lean more towards British hip hop. Nothing too gangsta. The Streets, aka Mike Skinner, has recently come out with his album, Everything Is Borrowed. It's not bad. 'A Grand Don't Come For Free' was better, but 'EIB' is different. Good different. Skinner is well-known for rapping about things people actually go through like eating kebabs and urm, losing a grand at the back of a television. But yeah, there's none of that wealth-flaunting, bling-obssessed, sexist stuff.

There's also the quite younger Plan B, a more agitated, yet thoughtful youth that ponders and questions the notion of forced morality and the knife culture of other youths. Still waiting for his second album. This song wasn't even on his first.

Plan B - Cast A Light




This is my favourite Plan B song. How often do rappers rap about their mamas? And to discuss something like this so maturely and thoughtfully at his age, I admire Plan B. And the way he incorporates an acoustic guitar in his music. It's brilliant.


Plan B - Mama (Loves A Crackhead)

If you've seen Adulthood (sequel to Kidulthood), you might recognise him as Dabs. His song, Kidz, was also used in Kidulthood.
Signing out

Over and out

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Review: Appeal To Reason (Rise Against)

0 comments
Album Review
Artist: Rise Against
Album: Appeal To Reason
Rating: 4 Out Of 5
It's been a while since I last wrote a CD review, and now I'm back.

Rise Against is simply one of the best punk bands out there. It is melodic, politically-conscious agit-punk at its best. The brilliant 'The Sufferer & The Witness' was simply breath-taking, with songs like 'Prayer Of The Refugee' and the wonderfully poetic 'Approaching The Curve.'

'Appeal To Reason' is simply that, an appeal to reason. It questions, - like most Rise Against albums - the very fabric of American life and politics. In 'Collapse (Post-Amerika)' Rise Against criticize the apathy of the American public, remarking "Neutrality means you don't really care / Because the struggle goes on even when you're not there."

'Entertainment' is one of their best songs to date, questioning their own relevance ever since they gained mainstream popularity. Tim McIlrath worries that their popularity will make their message ignored and viewed as a vehicle for entertainment. He sings "All we are is entertainment / Caught up in our own derangement."

'Hero Of War' is a prime example of the sheer personal nature of the politics of Rise Against music. We are made to listen to actual accounts of war from the soldiers of Iraq, woven into an acoustic narrative that can seem clumsy with words, but is beautiful nonetheless.

'Re-Education (Through Labor)' mirrors 'Prayer Of The Refugee,' in that it discusses the struggles of immigrants in America and underpaid labourers in countries such as China: "We sweat all day long for you / But we sow seeds to see us through / Because sometimes dreams just don't come true / We wait to reap what we are due."

The rest of the album is worth listening over and over again. Though not many will say this is their best album, it is certainly up there. If you like your music with a conscience and a message, this is what you should listen to.



Signing out

Over and out