Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A busy and sociable few days ended up with me going to see American hopefuls "Band of Horses" at The Thekla last night. I picked up the album at Christmas after catching them on TV via the Jools Holland show and then hearing the record at a friend’s house. It's a time of year when I often get a little bored with music and go on the search for new things, I well remember the winter of 1978 when I finally "got" punk and new wave and then a few years later when I realised that Hip-Hop was fascinating and exciting music.

When I lived at home with my mum, she would have to suffer my latest musical obsessions. What was the poor woman thinking in 1981 when I subjected her to repeated plays of the wonderful "The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel" whilst I tried to impress upon her the merits of the revolutionary process of making records from other records. She bore it all with good grace as she did when I discovered the intoxicating world of Bulgarian open throat singing and then moved onto Tom Waits.

Anyway back to Band of Horses, after a week or so of heavy play, I started to turn against the album. There are a couple of terrific songs on it but the overall effect is of a record which promises more than it can deliver. In hindsight I think that I was curious about the way the look of the band - all tattoos, grubby caps and sallow skin beneath the mandatory beards, seemed to be at odds with the sweet sounds they were producing. Although they looked like they would smash you to a pulp with a tyre jack if you wandered into the bar they were frequenting, from the sound of them they would be more likely to buy you a nice camomile tea. Having spent a little time in there company last night, and I was standing so close to the keyboard player that I could have helped him out with any of those tinkly high notes, they appear to be charming fellows, and I can see them being huge in a few years time. However much like the record, they didn't quite work for me.

On Sunday afternoon we ventured out to see the latest film from Michel Gondry "Be Kind, Rewind". As well as directing some of the most interesting music video's ever made he was also the director of the classic "Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind" and the glorious "Science of Sleep" probably our favourite film of recent years. I'm not the biggest fan of Jack Black, so was a little concerned that he was in the film and opening 20 minutes or so appeared to be a little forced. Gradually the film relaxed into its wonderfully loopy premise, allowing Monsieur Gondry to bring his marvellous talent for creating brilliant Heath Robinson style low budget effects and heartfelt whimsy. There are some magical moments; I particularly fell for one scene, which shows the locals watching themselves on the big screen in a darkened room. The joy on the faces of the people as they get their moment of fame whilst "the man" waits outside to break all their hearts was very touching.

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