keresaspa: (Homer rage)
You'll forgive me if I pass on the end of year survey thing this time out as, for more reasons than I care to remember, I'll have little desire to recall 2016 in the future. But nonetheless I'll draw a veil on this most egregious of twelvemonths in my own time-honoured fashion:

Top 100 Artists of the Year )
keresaspa: (Nina looking a tad pertubed)
Nothing quite like this time of year to bring the vermin out is there, be it the drunken scum littering the streets from the early afternoon or the filthy politicians rewarding their cronies with their plastic "honours". Pah, they can stuff this particular arbitrary date in the calendar where the sun doesn't shine as far as I'm concerned. But I've established my own tradition for this specific date and I must keep it going regardless so:

Keresaspa's top 100 artists of the year )
keresaspa: (Henrietta emo)
Haemochromatosis is a cruel mistress to say the least, and she brings with her more ill than you can shake a stick at. Cirrhosis and liver cancer are the big ones, although as long as I keep getting the blood lettings and avoid the booze that shouldn't be a huge worry. Aching joints is another big one although to be fair I haven't noticed that too much as yet. Still, getting older should be a lot of fun! There's the potential of being struck down dead by being in the vicinity of shellfish although fortunately I never developed a taste for the stuff. The dizzy spells and weakness have been a part of my life for several years now and I would feel lonely without them. Which leaves one another thing, unquestionably my least favourite side-effect of the whole blasted condition - the crawl.

The crawl is essentially a nagging crawling sensation up the back of neck that leads to a small circle of searing pain above and to the side of an ear. It's usually accompanied by a general hot feeling on the skin, albeit with no discernible rise in body temperature. There are few things quite as gross as the crawl and it has me in its morbid grip right now. There's no particular pattern to its onset but when it comes it can last for a few hours or several days, although I suppose I'm back onto more frequent venesections due to a recent rise in ferritin levels. It will pass in time but for the minute I'm in grossed out mode as my body goes out of its way to give itself a hammering as ever.

Bloody stupid Viking blood. To all those idiots boasting about racial purity - this is what your purity gets you. Were I mixed raced I would be immune to this. Flaming nuisance. I believe I'll console myself with some Lolita No. 18. Well, the song is called "The Crawl", so why not?

keresaspa: (Albert Gladstone Trotter)
2013, eh? What a year! All this new stuff happened, a bunch of old stuff stopped happening and a load of other stuff continued happening. Crazy! There'll never be another year the same, although every year will probably be a bit like it in that there'll be earthquakes and chaffinches and carbon dioxide and outbreaks of drizzle and quarks and all that other stuff that every year is packed with. You know, fifty years from now if somebody comes up to me and says "remember 2013?" I'll say, well nothing as I'll be in the cold, cold ground by then. Mind you, were my corpse able to talk I'm sure it would say "piss off. What's the meaning of coming to my grave just to ask about indiscriminate years? Bloody nuisance!"

Still, New Year's Eve! Just think, this time a year ago the earth had completed one less transit of the sun but, now as if by magic, it is back in the same arbitrary place in space as it was then, give or take the bit we have to make up with leap years. Momentous isn't the word for it. It's been a whole 2,014 years since somebody started a new calendar based on a miscalculation about the birth of our Jesus so obviously the only answer is to go mad, drink your own bodyweight in alcohol and join hands with strangers in an unusual manner whilst singing a Robert Burns poem whose lyrics you don't quite know. Those who had a bad time in 2013 can look forward to 365 days of unmitigated bliss in the coming year, because as we all know that's how life works, plus we get to make new year's resolutions as January 1 is officially the only day you can decide to stop eating so many biccy-wicks. My resolution is to be the first man to climb Mount Everest. I'm sure I'll manage it before those pesky Norwegians get there first.

So a guid new year to ae and aw. It's been probably the single most important year in history containing the numbers 2, 0, 1 and 3 (in that order) and we'll never ever forget it, barring the onset of Alzheimer's disease.

And now, because I demanded it, I will keep up my annual tradition by recording for posterity the 100 musical artists whose works I listened to most in this twelvemonth. Read it and weep. Though leave the weeping to the end as it will interfere badly with your vision.

Here it is )
keresaspa: (Shonen Knife)
So, like in the good old days, a meme is doing the rounds and it has fallen on me. Apparently this originates on the wild hinterlands of Facebook but, knowing nothing about such diabolical malevolence, I am indebted to [livejournal.com profile] caddyman for initiating me into the inner circle of this particular one. Essentially the remit is to talk at some length about a specific band of the choosing of the originator and in may case I have been called upon to discuss the fair Shonen Knife and their opera. Splendid. So without further ado.

Time was the immediate answer to the question "who's your favourite band?" would for me be Jethro Tull, but that all began to change in early 2007 when I made the decision to investigate Shonen Knife. I still love the Tull, of course, but, having really enjoyed a bit of the 5.6.7.8.'s that I stumbled upon by accident, I was in the mood for Japanese girl rock and Shonen Knife fitted the bill better than any of their competitors. Others, like Lolita No. 18 and Lulu's Marble, have subsequently come along and vied strongly for my affections but for the depth of canon none of them can touch the Knife.

Although they've always been a three piece there can be no doubt that some animals have been more equal than others and the only permanent member, singer/guitarist/producer/songwriter/occasional keyboardist Naoko Yamano, has bestrode the band like a colossus since their inception and continues to do so to this day. More than anybody it is Naoko, a lady of 49 summers, believe it or not, when I took this picture, who has been responsible for the unmistakable cutesy but still hard garage-flavoured pop-punk sound that has defined the band throughout their career.

That's not to say that there hasn't been changes down the years. Formed by Naoko, her sister Atsuko and their friend Michie Nakatani in 1981, they ignored the anodyne j-pop that was emerging at the time, to instead take their lead from western punk bands. After a very limited release of Minna Tanoshiku in 1982 (a total rarity that I admit to never having heard) their first major indie release, Burning Farm came out the following year. This was part of an early naive period for the band, which was showcased even more strongly on follow-up Yama-no Attchan, where they experimented with some mid-80s styled synthesisers and production techniques, to generally disappointing results.

It would be 1986's Pretty Little Baka Guy where they really started to come into their own, returning to their punky roots but adding in a strong layer of garage rock to finally settle on the sound that would become their stock in trade. 712 followed five years later and, despite opening with a very ill-advised rap, this was where Shonen Knife came of age as the band we now know and love. By this time they had come to be feted by Kurt Cobain and others in the grunge movement, who admired the deceptive simplicity of their songs and the wonderfully silly innocence of their lyrics. A crossover into something approaching the mainstream in the Anglosphere was guaranteed but for once that was to be a good thing.

On the face of it 1993's Let's Knife (the first album I ever heard by the band incidentally) seemed like a bit of a naff cash-in, taking as it did a number of songs from their earlier albums, re-recording them with slicker production and translating the lyrics into something approximating English. Far from it however, as it remains for me their crowning achievement, a wonderful slice of daft enthusiasm that contains seven of their all-time top ten songs. Opening track "Riding on the Rocket" is probably my favourite of all their songs and almost certainly the best opening track to an album in the history of rock music. It didn't quite turn them into the global megastars that it should have but nevertheless it did increase their exposure in the west markedly. It was promptly followed by Rock Animals which kept the quality quotient high (if not being quite in the same league), then Brand New Knife, which, whilst still good, revealed a calmer and more introspective side to the band which, whilst not without its charms, didn't necessarily suit them that well.

Then the rot started to set in. Four decent but rather formulaic albums were churned out at regular intervals before the nadir was reached in 2006 with Genki Shock. It's not that it was terrible it's just that it had all become far too predictable and it looked remarkably like they weren't trying any more. By that point they had been recording in English for thirteen years but the lyrics had got worse and what had once been cute now just seemed like a lack of effort. When I tell you that one of the songs was about the fact that a lot of people wear jeans you know they're phoning it in! It clearly told as follow-up Fun! Fun! Fun! initially was released in Japan only but fortunately it proved a step up, as the band returned to a slightly punkier sound. 2008's Super Group cranked up the punk vibe a little further and was all the better for it, making it their best work since Rock Animals. It was when they were touring this album that I finally got to see the band live in May 2010 in the Scala in King's Cross. I was at the height of my haemochromatosis but still pulled myself out of my sick bed to make the pilgrimage and finally see them in the flesh. A fine time was had by all and I even got to meet Naoko and current drummer Emi Morimoto, although I must admit finally meeting the great woman did overwhelm me a little rendering me unable to say anything of any profundity to the lady. Nevertheless it was a transcendental experience to be in the presence of a goddess, despite my lack of loquacity.

It's something of a shame that their subsequent output has tailed off again somewhat. Free Time was the definition of a curate's egg, with some good ideas generally ruined by the songs being too long and repetitive (the soul of early punk is surely brevity, not length) whilst the double header of Pop Tune and Osaka Ramones suffered because of how indebted they were to the Ramones. The latter was an album of Ramones covers, most of which were played note for note and so ended up sounding like a Japanese woman singing a bunch of karaoke songs whilst it's Pop Tune follow-up mostly sounded like a collection of Ramones rip-offs, barring the track "Psychedelic Life" which, in something of a full circle for yours truly, had a nice bit of flute very reminiscent of Jethro Tull. Perhaps if I rated the Ramones more highly the albums would have appealed to me more (and the covers album was generally received positively despite my reservations) but I've never really cared for them so listening to albums on which they were the sole influence, rather than one of a number of influences, was always going to be a trying experience.

These days you can generally set your watch by Shonen Knife, so I anticipate a new album should appear sometime around mid to late 2014. My hope is that the Ramones stuff will be out of their system and they will return to their own sound which, whilst undoubtedly influenced by the shaggy New Yorkers, had a lot more to it than just that. Naoko will be 53 next month so there is unlikely to be too much more left in the tank but I remain convinced that she has one blinding album left in her. Hell, who knows in late middle age she might go all crazy and come 2018 churn out some strange Yoko Ono/Jarboe/Diamanda Galas effort a million miles away from what we're expecting. Or not. Either way though Shonen Knife still have a great legacy in their wake and I remain committed to description of Naifu as my favourite band.

And if anybody wants this just ask and I'll give you one of your bands.
keresaspa: (Jimmy Edwards)
I bemoaned yesterday how much I have become a slave to the internet to keep me amused but on the other hand one of the benefits of having internet on tap is that it allows me to keep a close eye on certain patterns of my own behaviour. My insistence of allowing all music to which I listen to pass through last.fm means that I can see which particular artists have dominated my listening this year. For my own interests I believe I will list them here.

Little amuses the innocent and far less the fool )

Of course all of the above unadulterated self-indulgent waffle was inspired by the fact that the year 2011 is about to end apparently and were we Germans it would be ordered by law that we should watch this slice of hilarity.



I'm sure Grimsby must be proud of Freddie Frinton for that little slice of mirth which in no way went on about eight minutes longer than it should have. Well, I suppose the Germans would find a lot of what we laugh at somewhat dull too (although clearly Jimmy James' drunk act was a million miles better). Einen guten Rutsch as they say down Bergisch Gladbach way.
keresaspa: (Percy Sugden)
I happened to be on the Lisburn Road today, an area packed with the sort of annoying "luxury coffee boutiques" that inevitably attract self-described "yummy mummies" in skinny jeans and similar despicable bourgeois bastards but one in which just off to one side loyalism is rampant. it was an area that made the national news a couple of years back when the local mouth breathers launched a pogrom against the Romanians whilst the PSNI stood by and shook their heads. Well, the fun is all set to start again as the area around Tates Avenue, which was around where the rumpus all kicked off, has been festooned with stickers for the "Ulster" National Front trumpeting that "your country needs you" under black and white drawings of the red hand flag (not sure how that works but colour printing uses up drink money, I suppose). Just what we need, a comeback for the hard-headed old has-beens of the NF, particularly now that Eddy Morrison is back in the fold. Still at least the local hostelries can look forward to a bumper run if the Poet Laureate takes a tear over for the Twelfth with his leaflets in tow. Interesting given recent events that the last time the NF made a concerted attempt to organise here they were kicked out of their Templemore Avenue by the UDA who, having initially co-operated with them, dismissed them as "wankers" when they cottoned on that the "Political Soldiers" were flogging copies of Qadaffi's Green Book in a city where he is invariably associated with the Provos. The ethnopluralism may have been elbowed in favour of a return to good-old fashioned racism but the wankery remains in place as much as ever.

Day 7 )
keresaspa: (Lolita No. 18)
Another day another ill-starred attempt to watch two matches at once. Figuring that it might be the one where most would happen I opted for Italy-Slovakia as the main game with the odd dabble with Paraguay-New Zealand. It proved to be a wise decision as, whilst Paraguay put on a pretty turgid display against a thuggish New Zealand (whom the commentators seemed to think should definitely win for some reason), the other game proved to be something of a classic. Slovakia began the game improved on their previous weak performances and were just about good value for Vittek's opener, even if it was a De Rossi error that gifted it to them. Italy looked decidedly out of ideas approaching half-time but improved when Pirlo was introduced. However the luck just wasn't with them (as inevitably seems to be the case with Italy) whilst in Iaquinta they had a striker who was some way short of the class of a Rossi, Schillaci or Del Piero. Slovakia meanwhile seemed to have a strange preponderance for wearing strips of blue on their legs with Kucka practically wearing blue tape leggings. Any ideas on what that was about? Poor defending allowed Vittek to grab a second before Di Natale pulled one back, sparking an inevitable rumpus. The Slovak goalkeeper Mucha did not come out of this game with much credit as he sought any opportunity to cheat or time-waste whilst the Slovakians as a whole were very prone to extreme levels of gamesmanship. Italy came back strong but then fell asleep for Kopúnek's goal, a strike that came straight from the Stoke City playbook. With Paraguay heading towards a bore draw the Slovaks looked set to win the group and condemn Paraguay to a hiding from the Netherlands. God bless Fabio Quagliarella for that late goal then - you may be out Fab but you'll be welcome in Asuncion for evermore! When the whistle finally went there was a clear feeling that something special had ended. The Italy side had been great but this looked a tournament too far and it is a shame that the international career of a little warrior like Cannavaro, not to mention Pirlo, Gattuso, Camoranesi and Zambrotta, had to end like this. Slovakia deserved to win overall but it was hard to warm to them as they were a petty bunch and the Dutch should just about edge them. As for Paraguay winning the group is a job well done (just as I predicted) but there will need to be improvements in the next match as, apart from a few decent runs by Vera and Valdez, New Zealand frustrated them badly at times. Cardozo also needs to end his shoot on sight policy as soon as possible as he has wasted a few chances that way. Still on the positive side Santa Cruz looked sharper and went damn close with a free kick so if he can hit form then the Japanese should be beatable. Or not, it transpired....

It seemed an odd decision by the BBC to choose a match between an already qualified side and an already eliminated side as their main game. Still, their coverage has been plagued by gaffes and so it seemed ordained that the rubbish that is BBC Three would be my home for much of the evening. Luckily somebody saw sense and made the switch at the last minute as we were treated to a surprise master class. It was all about Denmark in the early stages and then suddenly the Japanese blossomed like the sakura and became world class out of nowhere. Honda, ignoring the showbiz ref who seemed determined to get noticed with daft yellow cards, struck unquestionably the free kick of the tournament so far to put the Japanese ahead and to prove me right for rating him. As if that wasn't enough Endo promptly scored another free kick goal to put them two up. There's nothing to this free kick lark, is there? Honda continued to look great throughout and he is bound to be in demand when this tournament is over whilst Matsui also played a blinder. For their part the Danes saw more of the ball after half-time but by and large they huffed and puffed to little real effect and the penalty when it came was as much to do with Agger's theatrical leap as the slight shove he absorbed. It was no surprise that Jon Dahl Tomasson, who looked his Newcastle self rather than his AC Milan self here, missed but he did get the follow-up and I suppose you have to say well done on getting his record. Mind you it is debatable if he was the worst Danish striker on display out there as at the start of the game we were treated to the bizarre sight of Nicklas Bendtner colouring in his socks with a red pen. That was about all we saw of him too, as the self-proclaimed best striker in the world was pwned by the veteran Nakazawa and really needs to learn to keep his mouth shut or at least back up his words with performances. The Japanese third goal was well deserved and once again saw some tremendous work by that man Honda, who combines the raw power of Lolita No. 18 with the swagger and élan of 54 Nude Honeys and has been the find of these group stages. All things considered this was a joy to watch as the Japanese, whom I was justifiably criticising for their negativity only a few days ago, played like a team reborn and slapped the ugly, clogging Danes down with a style and joie de vivre that will take some topping. But not only was it pretty they also had plenty of bottom to them as they stood up to rough Danish treatment strongly and even paid them back in kind when the opportunity arose. All of which is bloody bad news for Paraguay who have face them in the next round but for the moment I would rather simply enjoy what I just watched. And so good was the Japanese performance that I never once felt the need to switch over so I can add little or nothing about the Cameroon-Netherlands game. The Dutch struggle to hold my interest at the best of times and unfortunately Cameroon have been the poorest African team at this competition so I don't imagine I missed much anyway. Besides had I missed the reincarnation of this Japanese team I would have been kicking myself forever.
keresaspa: (Haku)
A quick run into town today to see what could be seen. Pretty uneventful until, on a pure whim, I swung round the backstreets of upper North Street, which is the edge of the city centre and is something of a "zone of discard" (perhaps the only term I actually remember from GCSE Geography). Swinging down Union Street the wind took me down Library Street and past the lock-up garage where the Central Library used to hold its annual sale every May way back when. Well stone me, but they were only running the blooming thing today! There had been absolutely no word of this (as far as I had heard) and I went round that way largely for the hell of it but there it was - the mythical "once you've been" as it is still called in my house (after an advertising slogan it used many moons ago in the days when there were queues to get in). The very definition of serendipity I believe. Money wasted on a good number of books and I have now committed to a return tomorrow which involves a half nine start in order to cadge a lift. As such I really should be in bed now but who can bothered as (a) Hill Street Blues is on soon and (b) it being Saturday I can always go back to bed. The highlight of my year and no mistake. Yes, I am that tragic an individual.

And in a completely unrelated note I do so enjoy the anarchic stylings of Lolita No. 18 but when did I miss Haku becoming a member?! Just kidding, if you're reading!

Anyway, that's all from me for me. I must turn the heat on, smoke a feg (not until Tuesday, you will recall) and get back to whatever it is I do. Until next time, keep on truckin'.
keresaspa: (Idi Amin)
Enough work for one day I think. Actually a surprisingly productive day after yesterday's unexpected absence (of which more later) but I feel I how now reached my limit and do not wish to continue. Rather, and in direct contradiction to what I said on Monday about not boring you all with the details, I will provide an outline of how I spent the weekend. Cut for the benefit of those of us who wince when somebody turns their journal over to describing a bunch of random events that happened to them recently (a category I sometimes include myself in, so excuse the hypocrisy). Anyway:

InFest 2008 )

So there you have it. A good time all and all and great to catch up with a number of you and meet various new people. On the negative side I was struck down late Tuesday night by a rather debilitating stomach bug (hence yesterday's absence) but luckily it now seems to have passed so i can concentrate on clearing up the work. And those of you who hate travel reports can come back now!

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