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New Blood // Friends

22 Jun

What can we thank bedbugs for? Sores? Itchiness? Being temporarily homeless while the fumigators move in? Well, let’s add something that’s not sarcastic to the list. We can thank bedbugs for helping to form Friends. Last summer, Samantha Urbani and Lesley Hann moved in with some more Friends one week after the little critters had infested their place in Bushwick and a band was born. They’re about to launch their monster of a debut single, ‘Friend Crush’, on to the world and if justice is done, we’ll all be hailing bedbugs as our kings in a few months.

Friends are a curious bunch: they suffer from a kind of wonderful identity crisis. From the drums at the beginning of ‘Friend Crush’ you might assume they’ll be something like New Young Pony Club. But then Urbani’s vocals kick in and she sounds just that little bit like Lykke Li. Deceptively simple lyrics layer over equally deceptive melodies, yet the multiple spins of ‘Friend Crush’ reveals hidden depths. It has a detached yet effortlessly cool nature, similar to that of the off-kilter pop of Little Dragon, but it’s not vacuous, it’s down to earth, accessible and believable electro-pop for those who shun OTT synths. ‘Feelin Dank’ gets by simply on harmonious, sultry vocals and percussion. It’s simple and very effective. Who needs guitars and bass when you can just make good use of a tambourine? And if you still need some further persuasion, you know you’ve got a quality wonky-pop band when they come from the same label as Darwin Deez: Lucky Number Music.

When Friends release their debut LP it’ll surely be bringing back memories of the summer, including those pesky bedbugs. Just remember to thank them when you hear the sheer brilliance of this band.

 

The 39 Steps And The Mysterious Let-Down

5 May

I have to be clear that I’m not going to be talking about the film here, instead I’m talking about the book by John Buchan on which it was based. I finished reading it about a week ago and felt bitterly disappointed.

The story goes that Mr. Hannay lets in a lodger, Scudder, who is violently killed a short time later, leaving behind a story involving a conspiracy to assassinate a political figure, Karolides, and a book containing a seemingly indecipherable code. Hannay realises he will be the prime suspect for Scudder’s murder and so goes on the run from the law, fleeing to Scotland where he meets a variety of unusual characters who are either useless or very helpful. Eventually he will make it back to England and solve the mystery of the 39 Steps before te 15th of June, when he has been told a devious masterplan will come to fruition.

I didn’t have any problems with the book until about Chapter 8 – before that point it was thrilling, you didn’t quite know what was going to happen next and there were enough chases, intrigue and character-building to keep anyone happy. I have to say that I don’t usually read books like The 39 Steps and don’t feel that a book has to have a lot of action in it to be great – this just happened to be one of those books!

I felt let down by the book when you learned the “mysterious secret” of the 39 steps. I thought the secret was going to be really deep and it would have some sort of plan involved (e.g. the 39 steps to successfully assassinate a political figure). Instead I got a really flat, tedious outcome to what the 39 steps were. Okay, so the climax of the book is less about the steps and more about the people involved with them (will get to that in a minute) and I realise that there’s some sort of metaphorical meaning to the number of steps (i.e. 39, as in the year 1939 when the war broke out). Still, it was built up so much by the plot of the book that it all ended up being a bit flat.

The main part of the climax focused on the characters involved in a mysterious masterplan to be completed on June 15th. Predictably, these characters are German, and even more predictably, you know that Hannay and his friends (i.e. the good guys) have to win. But you know all along that he will – it’s not really giving anything away since every protagonist in this sort of book has to win eventually right?

It was really too bad that this book didn’t have the more explosive (or at least more dramatic) ending that the first 8 chapters really deserved – you know that a book has fallen a bit short of the mark when at one point there’s a massive explosion, a few violent deaths but in the end the bad guys are caught because of the appearance of someone’s eyebrows!

My Bank Holiday!

3 May

I put an excalamtion mark at the end of the post title to make this seem a lot more interesting than it probably has been: basically Bank Holidays are always the same. You’ve got football on the telly, rubbish TV programmes, the weather’s terrible and everyone thinks that it’s a good idea to rush to the seaside because, er, that’s what you do on a Bank Holiday.

Well, it’s been pretty much the same for me. Today was the seaside day, and even though I didn’t see much of the beach (because it’s absolutely freezing cold out there) I did get my mitts on fish and chips:

Well it’s actually a fish cake, which is why it’s so round! I have to say that these paticular variety of fish and chips are very delicious – it’s a good job that I don’t live nearer to where these are made otherwise I’d be the size of a house! I had ice cream too, but I’ll have you know that I was good and only opted for a small tub: I’m not the pig I may seem to be!

In other Bank Holiday news, I was so desperate for a game that takes longer than 10 hours to complete (including min-games, collectibles, side-quests and all the rest of it) that I resorted to getting my ancient Nintendo 64 working again:

I decided to start with Donkey Kong, since it’s a game I haven’t played for ages – I think this game actually holds the record for the amount of collectible items in a single game (including bananas, golden bananas, fairies, battle crowns, blueprints, banana medals, boss keys, oranges, ammunition crates, two special tokens, banana coins, headphones and camera film. That’s quite a long list!) Also on the cards to play is the first two Banjo-Kazooie games (Banjo-Tooie is hilarious and also takes an age to complete 100%) and Zelda: Majora’s Mask, for me the most criminally underrated in the franchise.

So other than this and blogging it’s been a pretty mundane Bank Holiday really. I’ll sign off with Beck’s “Youthless” a song that’s been on repeat for me over the weekend and also has a very simple yet oddly ingenious video:

SCG: Branching Out!

1 May

Hey guys! You can now become a fan of my personal page on Facebook! Exciting times! If you want to do so, just click on my badge to the right of this and if you do become  a fan then I’ll respect you forever – seriously, at the minute I don’t have any fans so I’ll really appreciate your support in this new endeavour. Hopefully you’ll get your friends to follow me as well so we can have an even bigger community here on SCG.

Thank guys!

Even More Reviews!

28 Apr

I’ve just posted even more reviews on to the Reviews section for you to have a look at: today’s offerings include Wild Beasts, MGMT and Caribou – who’ll come off the best I wonder? Feel free to say anything you like as long as it’s constructive!

New Reviews!

27 Apr

I’ve just posted two new reviews, one infintely better than the other (probably both in writing style and content). It’s up to you to guess which one out of Delphic and We Have Band are going to get the better review today.

Also, stand by for more reviews in the very near future: I’ve gone a bit nuts on buying CDs at the minute so I’ll be writing three more very soon! Enjoy!

I’m Back

18 Apr

Hi, sorry I’ve been away for so long but here’s what happened: I got very caught up in a hectic few weeks at work and last week I had the most horrendous cold (or at least it was for a good couple of days) and I didn’t really want to sneeze all over my laptop which is what usually happens when I can’t reach the hankies fast enough.

Anyways, I’m back! To celebrate I’ve put two new movie reviews online of The Blind Side and Kick-Ass (it was a Wednesday double bill!) and I’ll be posting as regularly as ever once again. Bye!

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