Monday, 22 December 2008

Deja vu all over again




You Love Her Coz She's Dead : "Dead End" from the Inner City Angst EP

If you think the name of this UK duo is weird, wait until you check out this music video. It's like early Crystal Castles, only with a stronger reliance on bit tunes and less so on the screaming. There's still screaming, but not as much as one finds with Crystal Castles. The video also reminds me of what Huoratron did for "$$ Troopers".

I love it.

I really do.

And 2009 augurs well for YLHCSD with them releasing new material along with other up and coming acts like La Roux, Ted & Francis, We Have Band and Appaloosa on record label, Kitsune. La Roux's "Quicksand" single is just killing at the moment and YLHCSD's Inner City Angst EP isn't far behind.

Good things.

I don't say this often about books, but...




... I really hate this book.

Most books generally fall into one of three categories:

1) Those books that leave me too bored to bother continuing beyond the first five pages.

2) Those books too enthralling to put down.

3) Those books that give the hint of being enthralling but fail to deliver.

Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita is something else entirely.

His writing style is just brilliant, with an extremely engaging narrator that has just the right balance of arrogance (he says he is 'movie star' handsome) and reticence (his own story often takes a back seat to reveal something else entirely to the reader). The turn of phrase is as enjoyable as the extent to which I find myself enthralled by the narrator's love letter, which is to say 'very'.

Where everything falls apart for me however is the object of this love letter. No matter how well written a book this is, this remains a love letter to a lust and longing of a much older man for grossly underage girls. It is this reality that again and again forces me to throw my copy against the nearest wall and leave it there.

That I am continually confronted by a man's justification for paedophiliac tendencies is proving hard to take.

That the book is so well written is what prevents the book from ever remaining on the floor for very long.

I don't know that I'll finish reading Lolita. All I do know is that it will take me a while before I get there.

Something to look forward to




This arrived in my inbox just earlier.

Opening in New Zealand 27th of February (Good Luck - WGTN) and 28th of February (Cassette Number Nine – AKL)

THE END is a brand new series of two monthly nights in conjunction with Modular. Sohomo and its parent Epaulette have exclusive license to host six events throughout 2009. These nights are world famous with parties set up in New York, London, France, and extensively in Australia.

Modular is arguably the world's most influential indie record company. Some of their represented artists include... Cut Copy, The Presets, Ladyhawke, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Robyn, Soulwax, Van She, Klaxons, The Avalanches, The Bang Gang Deejays, Bumblebeez, Chromeo, Colder, MSTRKRFT, New Yong Pony Club, and The Whitest Boy Alive.


First up is Bag Raiders.

Colour me quite excited.

Modular can go bankrupt in 2010.

Summer essentials : the hammock




We have one of these set up in what one might struggle to describe as our backyard (we live in a tiered section on the side of a hill) and it is just marvellous.

Just enough sun to enjoy a light snooze or deep read of an interesting book, but not so much the whole affair becomes uncomfortable (or worse, lead to uneven tans).

Just enough of a breeze to regulate the heat, but sheltered enough to avoid the generally unavoidable gales that strike our nation's capital.

Just close enough to remain involved in what is happening elsewhere in the house, but far enough away that one can justifiably call out for another gin / wedge of melon / whatever else might take your fancy, and expect it to arrive.

Just pointless enough to only ever find itself used at the height of summer.

Everyone should have a hammock.

Whoever got me this...




... knows me far too well.

Finally, a Secret Santa present I'd actually... well, enjoy.

And yes I mean the bean slicer.



I'm just glad I didn't end up with something as fugly as this charming set...



... despite the huge discount.



A bargain, these are not.

Summer essentials : car insurance




A curious aspect of summer, and one that proves endlessly entertaining is the rubbernecking that accompanies the emergence of attractively clad women on our city streets. That aspect is of course the propensity of male drivers to spend too long looking at the ladies instead of where they're meant to be driving.

The slew of near-misses and not-quite-misses seems to arrive every year almost like hayfever, and I thoroughly enjoy it.

I also enjoy the obvious leering of these men, so obvious that not even sunglasses can hide their lusty stares.

It really is a beautiful thing to behold.

In Mourning




Today has taken on a gloomier air than is usual for Mondays.

The workplace wife just today started in a new role in the corridors of power at Parliament. As proud as I am of her moving on and up, and I genuinely am, this development does leave a somewhat gaping hole in my capacity to handle the rigours of the workplace.

Colour me particularly wanting as a human being, but the workplace wives have proven to be a workplace essential for me. I have long relied upon having a confidante, confessor and counsellor at hand to keep me sane and professional. I have also long relied upon having someone that ably deflate my ego whenever it tended towards truly suffocating proportions.

Strong-willed. Wily. Stunning. Potent.

Each of my wives has been a force of nature in decidedly different respects. And yet, a common element to each has been this innate ability to put me in my place and do so in a way that didn't see me immediately bring their lives to a state of abject misery.

There aren't many people I could say have that hold over me. It seems to take a rare breed.

And with that, I guess it is time I started looking for a new wife.

Hmmm...

... I don't seem to have blogged in a while.

Maybe it's the not drinking.

Maybe it's the ridiculous hours I'm putting in at the office.

Maybe it's Fallout 3.

Maybe I'm still working out my end of year lists.

Maybe I'm still doing my Christmas shopping.

Maybe I'll find my way tonight, so I can find my way to you.

I'm actually having a few tech problems with my laptop, and I'm hoping to have it all sorted out anon.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Pop quiz

Working 12 hour days makes Jake...

A : Irritable?

B : Cranky?

C : Antisocial?

D : All of the above?

Monday, 15 December 2008

Something to look forward to




This is Steve Aoki dropping Junkie XL's "1967 Poem", a song Aoki helped produce.

This is probably the one song I'm looking forward to hearing in his set at Summadayze.

Am I the only one to find it more than a little off-putting to see a DJ spend so much time parading around in front of his decks?

Tim shot this clip when Aoki was playing in Osaka a week or so back. In some of the other clips from the night, he just couldn't help but insert himself in the night's footage.

Onya Tim.

I'd almost forgotten what you looked like, it's been so long.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

I just can't get Kylie out of my head




It has been almost a week since I saw Kylie in Auckland, and I'm still not sure what to say about it.

All I could muster on the night was "she was just incredible", and I'm yet to move very far from that less than helpful description.

So incredible I would honestly rate it a deserved and respectful second after Daft Punk in the famed and luxurious Hall of Concerts I've Been To (it's between the Hall of Best Forgotten Sayings and the area where my dignity was last seen).

So incredible I've been kinda dark for not getting a ticket to see her second Auckland concert the following night.

So incredible I haven't really been able to listen to much else.

I wonder if the same will happen when I see Metronomy / The Teenagers / Boys Noize / Utah Saints / Calvin Harris / Steve Aoki in January.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Cultural cringe




I happened upon the trailer for a new Bollywood film called Chandni Chowk to China and it really got my back up from the get go.

Yes I am a snob and yes I do turn my nose up at certain films and yes I will be the first to admit that Bollywood and Chinese kung fu slapstick really don't do a lot for me. What I'll also say is that there is something really quite wrong with this film.

Like, way wrong.

Back in the 80s we had films like The Gods Must Be Crazy, Crocodile Dundee and Jewel Of The Nile that really played into the whole exploitation of other cultures routine. I'm not talking anything as overtly offensive as a minstrels act, but we're getting fairly close.

I can't say I was particularly offended by the film's trailer (cringing notwithstanding), but it all the same brought up memories of films I did find kinda offensive.

Have you seen films that have left you angry or insulted? I'm not talking about really shit films that came across as monumental wastes of your time or committed unspeakable acts against your intellect, but films that really rubbed you up the wrong way.

I don't know what you'll be doing this Friday night...




... but I'll be at the Tug Boat on the Bay seeing these guys.

The guys have just announced a last minute gig for 9:30pm with Over The Atlantic coming along for the ride.

They've been touring relentlessly around the world and I can't remember the last time I saw them. I do remember they were rocking jump suits a la Datarock and the crowd was just loving their set. God that was a while back down Nostalgia Lane.

Fuck knows why they're playing on the Tug Boat.

I mean, really. The Tug Boat?

Cents and sensibility




The guys over at Bigstereo run a readers poll every year where they get their readers to first nominate their favourites for various categories before then asking us all to vote on the consolidated nominees.

The readers poll for this year has begun with nominations open for another few days.

Suffice to say I've already put down my two cents worth and in the spirit of openness and transparency happily provide those nominations I thought worthy of inclusion in this year's poll.

So here goes:

Fave album : Cut Copy, In Ghost Colours
In Ghost Colours has been the Alive 2007 for me this year with an obscene volume of repeat listens since it came out earlier this year. Although a few of the tracks were well-worn come the release of the album, the way all the tracks were ultimately presented on the album created something that made it so much greater than the sum of its parts.

Fave song : Little Boots - Stuck On Repeat
"Stuck On Repeat" hit me like a revelation on the road to Damascus when it came out under a fair amount of secrecy as to its origins, and rightly so. The opening rhythms are both hypnotic and mesmerising, while the vocals just lift this song even higher. The strength of the song can be seen in the huge blog interest in anything touched by Little Boots and in the huge turn-outs to her Automatic Lovers tour with Heartbreak.

Fave remix : Cut Copy - Lights & Music (Moulinex Remix)
"Lights & Music" didn't really impress me when it was released as a single in advance of the album and the video didn't do a lot to help either. It struck me that "Lights & Music" just seemed to come off second-best against the brilliant "Hearts On Fire". That is until Moulinex came out with his unofficial remix. I use this track as my ringtone and cellphone alarm siren, because there really is no better way to find out someone wants to talk to you or that it is time to get up. There really isn't.

Artist of the year : Soulwax
I was thinking on 2007 being Daft Punk's year and trying to work out who might claim 2008 as their own. As much as I love Cut Copy, I don't know that they quite nailed the global thing quite as well as Soulwax have. The release of their CD/DVD Part Of The Weekend Never Dies coupled with an impressive touring schedule to support the release of the CD/DVD certainly helped my deliberations. What nailed it though was their blistering performance at Parklife that left all of us both exhausted and desperately hungry for more. It was as close as I've come to the unassailable ecstasy that was felt during Daft Punk's live performance this time last year.

Fave remixer : Fake Blood
Theo Keating goes by a number of names, but his work as Fake Blood has been just top notch this year. Little Boots' "Stuck On Repeat", The Kills' "Cheap & Cheerful", Underworld's "Ring Road" and more recently Hot Chip's "Touch Too Much" are guaranteed dancefloor gold, but not the kind you get sick of hearing in a hurry.

Fave DJ : Mr. Oizo
Mr. Oizo's set at We Love Sounds back in June was just incredible. Impeccable song choice. Amusing stage antics. Oizo is the total package and his set remains a clear favourite of all the sets I've danced.

Fave record label : Modular
Modular brought us In Ghost Colours, The Presets' second album Apocalypso, Ladyhawke's self-titled debut album, and another brilliant mix CD set from The Bang Gang. Need I say more?

Act to watch in 09 : Shazam
"Pool Party" is a track most people have enjoyed throughout most of this year, and that came on the back of his ingenious do-over of Muscles' "Sweaty". Since then the Western Australian teenager has remixed The Tough Alliance and Dizzee and produced other people's work. Did I mention he's still just a teenager? 2009 is so his year.


So... who would you nominate?

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Summer essentials : the Caesar Salad




An important aspect of summer is the food we tend to enjoy, whether afforded by the shifting in seasonal weather, the gatherings that usually come with summer weather, or the occasions that arise this time of year.

Hydroponics and import substitution have usually enabled us to enjoy a wide variety of foods throughout the year, certainly wider than would be afforded by strictly local supply (locavorianism strikes me as both culinarily banal and unnecessarly limiting).

One aspect of summer I do welcome with open arms is the Caesar Salad.

Light and fresh, while also being at once sweet, savoury and acid, this is something I look forward to making for my own consumption. Don't get me wrong. I do enjoy making it for others. It is just that my affection for this dish is such that I can't help but be selfish about it.

That the dish is often ubiquitous among our city's menus is testament to its allure. That it is often woefully constructed is testament to the dire need of most people in this country to learn to cook.

To help you dear readers avoid the pitfalls of an underwhelming Caesar Salad, allow me to proffer the following suggestions:

1. The leaves should be cos and they should be served as whole leaves instead of being sliced or shredded in reverence to the fork. This is so that the salad can be eaten with the hands.

2. The egg should be coddled, not hard-boiled. This is so that the egg yolk can creep across the salad and add a necessary calming savoury element to the salad.

3. If you insist on using anchovy, please make the effort to grind it into the dressing. Discovering something insanely salty on the palate and uncomfortably hairy on the tongue tends to ruin how the salad is received.

4. Aim for a 'wet' dressing that will spread easily across the salad elements. Thick dressing tends to leave one tasting dressing and nothing else, and the dressing one does taste is both over-strong and pungent.

5. Avoid using too much dressing in the salad. The dressing is an accent to the salad elements, not the other way around.

6. Make your own dressing or don't bother making the salad. Store-bought dressings are uniformly terrible because they've been made in large batches that struggle to balance complex flavours.

7. Use small croutons that are as dry as can be managed. Large croutons make eating the dish an ordeal. Dry croutons ensure they remain crispy despite softening under the dressing.

8. Use a decent parmesan cheese. Avoid the pre-processed pap that passes for grated / flaked / shaved parmesan at the supermarket. Aim for a wedge or block that gives off an almost metallic sound when grated. The crystals are a hallmark of the cheese having been aged.

9. If you insist on adding meat, then please consider crispy lardons or crouton-sized bits of bacon. Do not use bac-o-bits. Avoid adding chicken. That's just lame, people.

10. Make this often enough to have the proportions and construction down pat. Everyone needs a signature dish. Let this be yours.




I'll provide instructions on how I make Caesar Salad once I come to my senses and cease to come in to the office on weekends.

Oh and before I forget...




... we now have one sleep 'til Kylie.

Sex-you-all

Someone has a new tattoo.

A tattoo that isn't just any tattoo but a Tellier tattoo.

I now want a Tellier tattoo of my own.

Maybe something along the inside of my arm between the wrist and the elbow.

Swiftly towards oblivion go I




Maybe it's my generally urban upbringing, my fundamental physiological weaknesses to, well... plenty of things really or my mixed European and Maori heritage, but I am suffering the mother of all hayfever attacks today.

Sneezing seems to be the bigger problem and whiplash is looking more and more a likelihood come close of play today. No laughing if you see me in a neck brace, because I will slap you. Hard.

The leaking is fairly manageable with tissues for Africa at hand. I say this despite the images of starving biafrin children highlighting the importance of ensuring one's nose is free of snot before one's photo is taken. Maybe wealthy westerners would be more inclined to give more of themselves to help others if the others didn't appear on TV with snotty noses.

I've taken both Claratyne's rapid relief pills and Flixonase's hayfever and allergy spray and nothing has changed. It's moments like this I long for the comforting embrace of Sudafed back when it actually worked.

Whoever dreamt up the brilliant idea of making pseudoephedrine a Class C Part III (partially exempted) controlled drug needs to be lynched in the streets for crimes against society. I don't care that it was processed to make P, I don't care that P is destroying the fabric of New Zealand society, I really don't.

All I want is effective relief from hayfever. That doesn't seem unreasonable to me.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Oh and before I forget...




... we now have six sleeps 'til Kylie.

Ambitious




Modular's sibling twosome Bumblebeez are doing a thing where they produce and release 30 songs in 30 days. The tracks are being uploaded to their website and if first song "Tableshopping" is anything to go by, I'll be swinging by every day.

I seem to recall Piers thought they were pretentious wank, but for reasons that escape my awkwardly fragile memory. That notwithstanding, they've managed to produce some solid songs ("Black Dirt", "Dr Love", "Rio") and strong remixes (their remix of Wolf & Cub's "One To The Other" is just... wow!) that have my interest more than piqued.

Have a look-see sometime, maybe between bids on trademe/ebay.

Taking an oblique moment for but a moment, should I be particularly concerned that this 30-songs-in-30-days thing starts on the second day of a 31 day month? Was that poor planning on their part or am I just exhibiting the traits of a particularly petty and trivial individual?

I'm not saying I am...




... but if I was the kind of person to go against doctor's orders and perhaps indulge in some of Movenpick's swiss chocolate ice cream, I'd be inclined to complain to the makers.

This is because if I were such a person I would no doubt notice how the new recipe has moved away from the tiny chocolate buttons to these great impenetrable swathes of hard chocolate that seem to have migrated to the top during freezing. I would of course lament the loss of those delicious delicious darling wee buttons.

Similarly, I'd notice how the square tub now unhelpfully ensures there is an annoying core of unspoonable ice cream surrounded by a moat of what has since become rather rich chocolate milk. The old oblong tubs were just perfect for ensuring even thawing of the ice cream. Just perfect.

But of course I couldn't possibly notice such things, so could never think to complain about things I haven't experienced in so many years now.

No.

Sadly.

On the upside, I can at least say I've been to a Movenpick resort in Jordan of all places. It sits on the edge of Petra with an ice cream stand by the lobby, ice cream that proved just ideal after spending a day clambering over ruins. Certainly moreso than the deep tissue massage I opted for later that evening.






Fuck I hate lolcatz. I really do.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Oh and before I forget...




... we now have seven sleeps 'til Kylie.

Haiku Review : Quantum Of Solace




I should be kicking this off with a haiku but I really didn't enjoy the film enough to be able to muster the creative energy for one. Quantum of Solace is sadly a film I found neither good nor bad, but instead really rather just banal.

One can see the producers are re-invigorating the Bond franchise by abandoning the cliches of its former self, and Batman Begins and The Dark Knight are a good example where that has worked, and admirably so.

I am however left wondering whether the abandonment of Q and his gadgets, gratuitous sex in exotic locales, Bond girls you'd remember the next morning, and the painfully cheesy one-liners has meant that the Bond franchise is becoming somewhat the emptier for it. This latest offering suffers most from a fairly small-minded story that struggles to sustain a plot throughout most of the film.

Basically, shit happens at regular intervals and that's about it.

I was hoping for more, for something that would build on the new ground laid down in the previous film, and for something that would eclipse the films that had come before it.

Maybe I was hoping for too much. It just strikes me that there is little point making a sequel if it isn't going to be as good or better than the film before it.

Change of plans




Well it looks like I'm heading up to Auckland after all for Summadayze in early January (thank you Nerdy Frames and Future Entertainment). Eric Prydz and Calvin Harris are headlining, but I'll be heading up for Boys Noize, Utah Saints and Steve Aoki. I don't recognise any of the Auckland DJs they've lined up to presumably fill in the gaps and handle the back-end of the night, so fingers crossed that isn't such a bad thing.

Summadayze hits Auckland the night of the 10th so I'm thinking I might head up a bit earlier to see Metronomy and The Teenagers at their Auckland gig the night before. Seems the rational thing to do really. Wouldn't you agree?

I've also heard on the grapevine that Sohomo are looking to organise a club night the night before Metronomy and Thee Teenagers that may or may not involve a DJ set from The Teenagers.

All up it looks like I'll be there from the 8th to the 11th of January. Eek! Sadly, Auckland is one of my least favourite places I might spend my time. Certainly rates well below Gisborne, and I think we all know how I feel about Gisborne.

I'm taking the bare minimum time off over the Christmas / New Years period to try and clear the rather oppressive workload at the office, so a trip up north could be just what the doctor ordered.

I do have one question, that I hope others might be able to help me with: if I'm going to something that runs from 10:00pm to 6:00am the following morning, do I need to bother sorting out somewhere to stay that night?

I ask this because I keep hearing that the sound at Vector Arena is pretty bad and the organisers of the event haven't done themselves any favours with the running of a similar event across the pond.

Youtube-R-Us




There have been a couple youtube vids popping up on my rss reader that have caught my attention in the last couple days.



First up is this one from OTN of Bruce Lee playing ping pong with a pair of nunchaku. Thanks to my father I grew up on Bruce Lee films, and ping pong holds a special place in my heart.





Second up is this one from Bigstereo of time-motion monster truck action set to In Digital Form's remix of My Robot Friend's "Robot High School". The closest you get to a robot in this video is Godzilla, but like someone else said "Seeing all those scrap cars, monster trucks, and even a humongous Godzilla, going around an arena like harmless toys in a sandbox is both awesome and hilarious"




Third up is this one of Sebastien Tellier performing "L'Amour Et La Violence" from his album Sexuality. I looked for this after picking up excellent remixes of "Kilometer" by Donovan and Moulinex that have surfaced in recent days. Of all the songs on this great album, "L'Amour Et La Violence" is by far my favourite.





Ok, it's your turn now.

This boy's in looo-ooo-ooo-ooo-ove




Much of what happened last Friday night remains a largely enjoyable blur. That is however except for two important people: Auckland's Babes!Babes!Babes! was just brilliant on the decks, intermingling Pet Shop Boys with Joy Division and myriad other great music that escapes me right now; and Auckland's Bionic Pixie.

The wee thing was very ably channelling Peaches while coming across more as a hybrid of Crystal Castles and The Knife. Well I thought so on the night.

Her set largely comprised some guy on a macbook sorting out the rhythms that she then sang around. Although only the two of them on stage, they more than came out with a full sound that just filled the place and forced us to dance, albeit some of us quite badly.

I didn't know a number of the tracks she performed, but one in particular dragged me in from the balcony and that was her fantastic cover of Robyn's cover of Teddybears' "Cobrastyle". It was just magnificent. It really was.

Magnificent like this...



Before you think I'm only gushing because of one song in her set, you should know that I really enjoyed the performance and her sound is very much in line with my current musical infatuation with Dandi Wind.