That is the cleverest title I’ve ever come up with.
Okay so I stole it from Jackass Number 2, what is this a fucking title competition? Forget I mentioned it.
I had the most badass plans for Halloween this year. I was going to host a gangster themed party, complete with poker game and screening of one of my all time favourite gangster movies, American Gangster. I even planned a special three-course Italian meal. Then Johnny called me.
‘Bandwidth fancy dress party on Saturday.’ Prick didn’t even say hello.
‘No can do, man. I’ve got plans.’
‘Well cancel them. All staff must attend. And you have to dress up.’
‘Are you serious?’
‘Yes! You have to write about it for this week’s This Is Not A Review. I even got you a date.’
‘Alicia as in Paul’s secretary Alicia?’
‘Jesus. What did you do, threaten to fire her if she didn’t go?’ Silence. ‘Don’t answer that.’
‘So you’re going?’
In my defence Alicia is very hot, and I was imagining a slutty nurse’s outfit, or a slutty cop’s outfit, or a slutty outfit of any kind. I was also kind of proud of my Vito Corleone outfit and was looking forward to showing it off. I called up my friends and cancelled the party. They weren’t as disappointed as I had hoped they would be.
So on Halloween I ventured out into the night to brave the weather and the 13 year old yobs throwing fireworks. I got myself a bottle of wine and went home to put on my outfit. The wine gave me a nice mellow drunk and with my outfit on I actually felt pretty cool. Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad after all. I regretted using tampons to stuff my cheeks for the authentic Brando impression though. They soaked up a lot of red wine and when I took them out… Well… We’ll not even go there.
I wandered around the party swigging a beer and the only thing anyone said to me was ‘What are you supposed to be?’ I didn’t see anyone I recognised and they were all wearing lame ass costumes. There were even a couple of jackasses dressed in one of those two-man horse costumes. I finally bumped into William, whom I hadn’t met since my interview. He was dressed like Bruno and it was all I could do not to stare at his package, which though average in size, was very well… defined.
‘Hey Will, where’s Johnny?’ I asked.
‘He’s the horse. What are you supposed to be?’ The horse. I should have known. As I made my way through the crowd I kept looking out for Alicia. Sexy Snow White… Not her. Slutty cat outfit… Not her. Damn it.
‘Hey Johnny,’ I shouted at the horse.
‘Hey man, what are you supposed to be?’
‘I was going to ask you the same question.’
‘Haha! What do you think – pretty cool huh?’
‘Yeah. Where’s Alicia?’
‘Hi Ian!’ It was the horse’s ass.
‘Alicia?’ She broke away from Johnny and stood up, smiling.
‘Yeah, it’s me!’ She was only wearing underwear.
‘Why are you in your underwear?’
‘Oh it gets so hot in there.’ The horse was grinning at me.
‘Are you half naked in there too?’ I asked him.
‘Of course!’ He said.
‘Yeah, of course fucking of course.’
‘Ooh listen to Mr. Jealous.’
‘Well how does it count as a date for me if she’s half naked inside a horse costume with you!?’ Suddenly the horse’s ass chirped up.
‘Just pretend you’ve got a date with Johnny’s ass!’ She laughed.
‘Oh no, I think I would enjoy that too much,’ he said. And right then something clicked.
‘Wait a minute, are you gay?’ I asked.
‘Uh, yeah,’ said the horse.
‘But you play Xbox,’ I said, perplexed. I think I offended him because he just stared at me with his big dead horse eyes and then shuffled off. As they left I thought to myself, that must be the sexiest horse’s ass I’ve ever seen, and decided I needed something stronger than beer.
They didn’t have whiskey so I started doing shots of Sambuca between beers. Then I noticed another guy dressed as Vito Corleone and got really jealous. Oh it is on, motherfucker. Then I realised he was with the hot chick dressed as a fairy. Ok, you win this round pal. I sulked off to the corner with the bottle of Sambuca and a whole tray of canapés. The smoked salmon was poor quality but they had one of my favourites – carrot sticks with humus dip – which was dynamite. I got a good way through the bottle before I realised how loaded I was.
‘Okay everyone to the screening room. The movie is about to start,’ shouted Dracula. I got up and went to the can. And there was Mr. Godfather 2 himself, taking a piss. I swaggered up to the urinal next to him, started to piss, and glanced down. My spirits dropped and my stream weakened. You win this round too, Godfather.
I sat myself down next to the horse, which was now divided in two. This was good because Alicia was sitting there wearing only a bra. It was bad because Johnny was sitting there in his underpants. His really, really small underpants.
‘What’s the movie?’ I asked.
‘Rob Zombie’s new one. Halloween 2.’ Jesus. I had already seen it once.
‘This movie fucking sucks,’ I slurred drunkenly.
‘Haha, you’re really good at doing Brando,’ said Alicia. I had long since taken out my face tampons.
‘I like your boobs,’ I said in response. Jesus I was drunk. She didn’t say anything.
I have noted that with every passing week my This Is Not A Review becomes even less of a review. So here are a few thoughts on the movie:
There is so much wrong with this movie I don’t even know where to start. Let’s face it, Zombie’s remake of the original Halloween was not only inferior but totally unnecessary. Its only redeeming qualities were the extreme violence and numerous sex scenes. And that is only because I happen to like low budget trashy horror movies. This, however, is a trashy horror movie too far. Rob Zombie has a lot of potential – I don’t like to see it squandered on shitty franchise cash-ins like this. Next point. Have you ever heard a hysterical woman try to talk while she’s crying? It’s annoying, right? So annoying you just keep wishing Lee Marvin would show up and give her a good slap. Well around 60% of the scenes in this movie needed a Lee Marvin intervention. Not only is the constant crying annoying, I like my horror movie heroines to have some spunk [Editor’s Note: Hehe!] Third and final point. The script for this one is even weaker than the previous effort. Carpenter quit after one. Zombie should have done the same.
After the movie we all went back to Johnny’s house for the after party. By this point the drink had erased all notion of rational thought in me and I was acting on pure instinct. And it would seem that my instincts revolve around hugging everyone and dancing to shitty music. I also started drinking screwdrivers, since vodka was all Johnny had. My last memory of the night is of lying on the floor singing along to Left My Heart In Tokyo and watching the Bumblebee Guy from The Simpsons getting off with Superwoman.
I awoke next morning acutely aware of how cold it was. I sat upright in a strange bed and realised I was bare arse naked. I noticed a big lump in the bed next to me and thought maybe I had gotten lucky with Alicia. I whipped back the bed sheets and found, to my horror, a massive horse’s head. Oh God no. I started to scream.
Illustration by Paul Milne
There are few bands as exploratory as the Flaming Lips in the world today. This is as close to a FACT as I’m prepared to go.
Sure, there are bands out there making more experimental or confrontational music, but the Lips do it differently. This isn’t a band being wilfully difficult – this is the last gang of cosmic adventurers. Boundaries are ignored, and wisdom is swallowed whole in their quest for knowledge and understanding. And as the Lips push further and further into the heart of consciousness itself, truths begin to reveal themselves.
(Sound + Science) x Emotion ( – ability) = UNIVERSAL TRUTH, ie. “Everyone you know, someday, will die.”
So why is it that I have been initially traumatised by the new Flaming Lips album, Embryonic?
Arriving a good three years after the underrated At War With The Mystics (apparently an album you either love, or hate – I love it), Embryonic is perhaps one of the most hotly anticipated albums I’ve ever…anticipated. After years of blowing my mind with stellar albums that just seem to be more revealing and invigorating, a documentary which literally changed the way I thought about music, and one of the most unforgettable experiences of my life when I appeared on-stage with the band as a dancer, I was ready to be exploded into another dimension by this album – I would ascend from this primitive shell into a higher state of being.
Imagine my surprise to find myself getting agitated…bored…angry….confused…this is not what is supposed to be happening when I listen to the Flaming Lips.
One of the major strengths of At War With the Mystics (2006) was that it allayed the universal themes and sentiments of The Soft Bulletin (1999) and Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (2002) to the sonic textures of their earlier albums, creating one of the most lush sonic palettes heard in many a year. For all it’s faults, At War With the Mystics was a joy to listen to just from the standpoint of a band experimenting with sound. Admittedly, it contained some of their most banal songwriting, but the soundscape of noise more than made up for that.
Embryonic takes that sonic experimentation even further, and then pushes it over the edge. From the very beginning, everything seems to have been recorded at the edge of it’s tolerance, causing an unusual distorted sensation from all the instruments. Drums rumble and syncopate, guitars squelch, bass throbs and electric piano tinkles. And tinkles. And tinkles.
Unlike previous Lips albums, the defining feature of the album is the electric piano, which gives it a weird, seventies Miles Davis feel. Much like when Davis tore up the jazz rulebook, the Lips appear to be doing the same with…the Flaming Lips. This feels so unlike a Flaming Lips album that all the ‘usual’ reference points are gone. This disorientation continues throughout the entire album (18 tracks!), and by the end, a feeling of exhaustion and disappointment lingers in the air.
This was not supposed to happen.
However, the damn thing stuck in my head. People asked me, “What’s it like?” and I’d struggle to tell them anything. “It sounds like…..Can being played by Miles Davis…or something.” And then they’d ask, “Is it any good?” and I’d say, “I don’t know. All I know is that I didn’t enjoy listening to it. That’s not to say it’s bad, as such…”
But the more I thought about it, I realised how much this music had moved me. It had got under my skin and affected me. It had provoked emotions in me that very few other pieces of music have managed to do so this year. So I gave it another chance.
AND IT BLEW ME AWAY!
Once it reveals itself to you, Embryonic explodes the world into technicolour. Where it once sounded unfocussed and lethargic, now it sounds visionary and intense. This is the sound of the modern age, a world in confusion, where nothing is quite like it seems, and we are spiralling out of control. Wayne Coyne, once the cosmic balladeer, is now some concerned prophet, trying to force us to open out eyes and see what’s happening. But rather than dealing in trite reportage, he expands upon some kind of great galactic crisis that threatens us all. As he whispers himself, “The ego is crushed.”
What once sounded like sonic defects, now reveal themselves as a band refusing to take the easy way out, saying, “You can do this any way you want to – THERE ARE NO RULES.” All that’s important is that you mean it. And where once the endless use of squibbly noises and tinkling electric piano sounded repetitious, now it sounds cohesive, almost as if it provides us with a rope to cling to whilst everything else falls away.
This could be the dawning of a new era, and once again, The Flaming Lips are leading the way.
Just trust your feelings and leave your preconceptions at the door.
“We brought you a copy of the new EP” said Orla of Louisiana Joyride. I looked at the titles; “Bitch”, “Whiskey”, “The Mud & The Dirt”. Says it all really.
- “And what song will you be doing for us today Orla?”
Was nearly disappointed. Until we learned that its no just any Goddess, but the Goddess of Desire, that beautiful whisky coloured homewrecker. And Louisiana Joyride really mean it; this is hard and fast blues in a broooooaaad Belfast accent. It is love it or loathe it. And we do love it.
Louisiana Joyride will be doing their duty at McHughs in Belfast on 11th November, and if you miss that they’ll be back there 13th and 22nd November before heading down to Whelan’s in Dublin on 24th. They’re a gigging machine!
Louisiana Joyride – Goddess
Download for iPod (48.2MB)
Filmed by Matt Bohill
in Belfast, October 2009
NEXT WEEK: FURLO
In the dying fits of summer, Belfast city uncorked the last of that wine bottle and got down and dirty for the annual Open House Festival, a glut of blues so rootsy you’d need a shovel to dig it out.
5 days of chilli and banjos nearly took its toll, but not before the kind people Bandwidth could muster the mustard to crawl backstage and down Jameson with Calgary’s finest The Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir where we also found, skulking away in a corner, a true dixie Mississippian William Elliott Whitmore.
The rest of it is all a little bit hazy. Fortunately I’d hit the record button at some point. I believe someone suggested the acoustics would sound best inside a tiny plastic shower cubicle. Maybe its the effect of having been on tour for 3 months. Either way, it was later concluded to be “second best thing that’s ever been done in a bathroom”, and that way it shall stay forever.
Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir (w. William Elliott Whitmore) – Nehemia’s Misfortune
Download for iPod (80.3 MB)
God damn it. After reaching the conclusion that stomping bluegrass is a state of mind, best appreciated by the enlightened, it was inevitable that the music would spill out onto the street. Where the punters were still drinking. Getting into taxis. Walking past on their way home. They were all innocent victims. Because music just cannot be stopped.
We the kind and civilised people of Bandwidth sneaked away some time after 1am, with the solemn promise to the Open House Festival that we would assure their act get a taxi back home that night to the hotel. Its not yet known what the bar bill was at the end of the night. Or if the band ever made it to Newcastle the next day. But there were about 20 people there who got the second best Agnostic Gospel Choir gig of their lives, and that way it shall stay forever.
At least until next time they’re here..
Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir – Oh Sorrow
Download for iPod (92.1 MB)
If you like what you see here, remember that William Elliott Whitmore will be back in town supporting The Pogues at St. George’s Market in Belfast on 2nd December. Redemption!!
Filmed by Will McConnell
in Belfast, September 2009
with thanks to the OPEN HOUSE FESTIVAL
So I was sitting in the bar trying to figure out what the hell to do. Johnny is still on holiday so it was once again up to me to sort out this week’s date. I sat there for a good long time and as the beer took hold my worries about finding a date melted away and I grew more concerned about what I should cook for dinner. The wonder of booze. I pondered it a while and decided to cook myself a delicious mushroom risotto.
‘Where is the nearest place I could get some mushrooms?’ I asked the barman as I ordered my last drink. He just smiled and gave me directions to a strange little herbalist shop. But he was right on the money and I got a great deal on some dried mushrooms. By the time I got home I had a serious case of the beer muchies, so I poured myself a glass of wine. I said a brief toast to the late Keith Floyd and rustled up a truly dynamite mushroom risotto. Then I sat myself down with my bottle and watched Countdown until I fell asleep.
I was startled awake by the sound of some filthy bugger ringing my doorbell. In my half-asleep panic to get out of my armchair I spilt wine all over my favourite wife-beater and ended up running to the front door looking like a redneck that just birthed a fucking calf.
‘Who the fuck do you think you are waking me up at this hour!?’ I screamed as I whipped the door open. ‘I’ll kick your monkey a…’ I trailed off when I saw who it was. Officially the most awesome man on the planet: Mickey Rourke (Ref: Here) He just smiled that cool smile, took off his shades and said, ‘Get your shit together, kid. We’re going out.’ Needless to say, I obliged.
I put on my most kick ass outfit, looked in the mirror and realised it was only about 30% as kick ass as Mickey’s, and went downstairs to find him swigging from my bottle.
‘Where are we going?’ I asked.
‘I heard you needed a date for the movies.’
‘You’re gonna be my date!?’
‘Hell no. I’m gonna help you get one.’
‘Oh, cool. I’d actually prefer to just go drinking with you though.’
‘Well I can’t,’ he said, ‘I’m taking two strippers to dinner later. Let’s go.’
So we went to the mall I work in and I had already developed a swagger that said ‘I’m walking around with Mickey Rourke, bitch.’ I introduced Mickey to my boss and she got his autograph. He got her number. Then we headed over to a clothes shop and Mickey started looking at some jeans. Naturally, being Mickey Rourke, he attracted some attention from the staff. All female. He picked out the hottest one and said, ‘Excuse me hun?’ I stood back to watch the master at work. ‘My friend here told me you were hot but God damn.’ She just giggled and played with her hair. ‘He needs a date for tonight. What you say – wanna let him take you to the movies?’
‘Um, yeah ok,’ she said without even glancing at me. She was just staring at him with this dreamy look in her eyes and I realised her answer would have been the same if he’d asked her to sign over the deeds to her house, or if she’d like to be sold into the sex trade.
‘He’s a silly bastard but I reckon a good lookin’ dame like you could sort him right out,’ he said. He was so awesome I wasn’t even embarrassed by this statement. Then I realised I was giggling and playing with my hair. He called over to the girl’s boss, ‘She’s going home early today,’ and there was no argument. And so we went to the movies.
I was disappointed that I couldn’t hang out with Mickey for longer but I understood that he could only lay the groundwork, and the rest would be up to me. He had worked his magic on me though, as well as the broad. I was a changed man. This new found self confidence was only enhanced by watching ‘The Goods: Live Hard Sell Hard’ because Jeremy Piven is the leading actor and Jeremy Piven does ‘ultra-confident’ like Sarah Palin does ‘being a huge bitch’. It is almost impossible not to feel like a cocky sonofabitch for at least a few hours after watching Jeremy do his thing. On top of that, the movie was awesome and hilarious in equal measure. Afterwards, shirt unbuttoned almost to my belly and swaggering with such force that I gave myself mild whip-lash, I took the broad for a few drinks. Despite having already had enough to knock me on my ass, the drink did not turn me into a drunken mess the way it usually would, and I realised that Mickey’s magic was still working. It is a scientific fact that Mickey Rourke becomes more awesome the more he drinks. This rule does not have a limit – his potential for awesome-ness is exponential.
At the end of the night the broad wrote down her phone number and gave me a kiss on the cheek. I must have lost the piece of paper, though, because when I woke up in my armchair the next day all I had was a banging headache and a badly wine-stained shirt.