Friday, 26 November 2010

Saturday, 30 October 2010


This is the Westerns section at the Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch visitor centre.
What strook me was the selection of DVDs on sale; two categories - DVDs and Western DVDs.
And no, I'm not taking the piss with the name. Google it.

A Year in the Life.

I've been inspired to take on a project. A pretty simple project, though still a challenge to complete without error. I'm going to capture and post a different image every day for a year. 365 days, 365 photographs. Starting now.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

10. Liam Frost - We Ain't Got No Money, Honey, But We Got Rain

I was introduced to Liam Frost this year by a close friend of mine. She may seem a little overly-fond of him, but with valid reason, I've discovered! I first encountered his debut album, Show Me How The Spectres Dance (2006), which he recorded and released with his band The Slowdown Family. Now though, he's gone solo, and his maturity as a song writer is clearly evident in We Ain't Got No Money. Lyrically, Frost is outstanding. Musically, his sense of key and cadence stand out from most singer-songwriters also currently breaking into the mainstream.
The album opens with the single 'Held Tightly In Your Fist', immediately showing off his talent for words. Like a few tracks on the album, lyrical content often doesn't match the music. A seemingly joyous affair may be hiding a gloomy, morbid story in its midst. This is a feature that's kept with Frost since his debut, though things sound to have cheered up somewhat.
My favourite track off the album is Skylark Avenue, recorded using only vocals and distorted electric guitar, giving some sense of raw purity to the song and the depths of it's meaning. Frost also performs a duet with singer-songwriter Martha Wainwright on Your Hand in Mine, a collaboration with Ed Harcourt.
Seeing him perform a solo gig at the Leaf Tearooms in Liverpool this April, I was literally given a front row seat to an outstanding performance by man and guitar. The dapper musician gives his all in each and every beat played, pouring his heart and soul into every note. The over-shot set timings was more than worth the run for the last train home, but we didn't leave before nabbing our dear Liam's setlist...
I was personally told at Summer Sundae 2010 by Frost himself that he is currently working with a new band that he's formed. He has one final solo show in Manchester in September, after which he will be turning all his attention to the as-of-yet un-named band. Looking forward to whatever next comes our way from this handsome Mancunian.

Monday, 23 August 2010

11. Alexisonfire - Old Crows, Young Cardinals

I'd been waiting what seemed a long, LONG time for this. Alexisonfire are close to my favourite band, pipped to the post only by Brand New. Their 2006 work Crisis is by far one of my favourite albums, so there was a lot to live up to with this release.
Old Crows, Young Cardinals
has been described by the band as a musical history of Alexisonfire. It tells the story of the early days through to the present in a high-tempo, aggressive post-hardcore chronology. First track 'Old Crows' boasts the chorus "We are not the kids we used to be, stop wishing for yesterday", the band telling how they've matured both in body and in their music. 'Sons of Privilege' is a straight up hate-America song, the couldn't-care-less line "It's time to justify your pride" ringing clearly through the end of the song. By far my favourite track from the album is 'Born and Raised', a fast-paced four-minute scream-along relating to the breakthrough of the band from St. Catherine's, Canada. The song really allows all the members to show off their individual talents, what with Dallas Green's lead riffs and vocals, George taking a new approach to his screaming, and the intricate drum lines from Ratbeard. The rhythm and bass guitars also let rip, setting the pace for the rest of the album.
Easily one of my favourite new releases from 2009, and probably my favourite Alexisonfire recording.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

12. PJ Harvey - Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea

To me, PJ Harvey has always been one of those names you hear so much about, but never actually give any attention to. This is the first (and so far, only) PJ record I've listened to. My first encounter was in the cafe where I work. One of the chefs, Joe, has a collection of literally thousands of CDs, and would usually bring in one of his huge CD wallets on shift. We both share a fairly similar taste in music, and on discussion he discovered I'd never heard anything by PJ. Immediately, he leafed through his wallet and pulled out Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea, whacked it on and cranked up the volume.
Not really knowing what to expect, the initial punchy guitar/synth riff impacted hard, setting the line for the rest of the album. At Beautiful Feeling I thought my ears were playing tricks with me, thinking I could hear Thom Yorke with backing vocals.. The suspicion was proven on This Mess We're In, where the pair duet throughout. This added an edge of brilliance to the album for me. I've always been a huge fan of Radiohead and Thom Yorke, and have great admiration of his vocal abilities. Together they make quite a pair!
Written during her emigration from Dorset to New York, the album tells the story of her move between two completely different cultures of life. Her new experiences of city living and their contrasts to the Dorset countryside become clear through the record, capturing the excitement of starting a new life and the heartache of leaving one behind. An enticing grunge work from start to finish, definitely one of my top new discoveries from the past!

Saturday, 21 August 2010

13. Manchester Orchestra - Mean Everything to Nothing

Long awaited, this album was one of those I was really looking forward last year. After the Atlanta, Georgia band's debut album I'm Like A Virgin Losing A Child in 2006, I had seen them perform twice each in Manchester and at Leeds Festival. These live shows gave a lot of promise for this album, with much more pronounced guitars, heavier, more complex drums and nice beefy bass lines.
I received my pre-ordered copy in the post a day before release, and not a single lecture was attended. There is certainly a lot of maturity being shown from the first album. Lyrically, Andy Hull is growing ever more potent. There are far fewer (if any) sombre, morose entries than I'm Like A Virgin Losing A Child, replaced with clearly defined, punchy riffs and catchy phrases and melodies. A fantastic album, and I feel this may still be early days for this fine band!
Highlights: Shake it Out, Tony the Tiger, In My Teeth, Pride and I Can Feel a Hot One.

Friday, 20 August 2010

14. The King Blues - Save the World, Get the Girl

Again, this album wasn't exactly new to me last year, but it was certainly a regular player on the iPod. This is the first record I encountered from the acoustic ska-punk outfit, and it took hold of me from the off. I remember racking up over 500 plays within the first week of having it.
One thing I couldn't, and still really can't get over, is how small a following The King Blues seem to have. When I was first getting into this album, there was only one other person I knew who'd even heard of them, never mind liked them. I had trouble for a while trying to find someone to come with me to see them live at Wrexham's Central Station, a small venue with a couple hundred capacity or so. I'm SO glad I managed to find a gig buddy though, it was a gig I'm very glad I didn't miss, what with another LP to add to the collection and a signed set-list!
This outing was more than enough encouragement to book in another trip to see them in Manchester's Academy 2 in April (yesterday, as I'm writing this). I must say, I'm looking forward to this year's release of Punk and Poetry after some of the previews from these two gigs.
The lyrical powers that Jonny 'Itch' Fox brings forward through The King Blues are often highly politically and resistance related, and at other times take form as deep, meaningful love songs. This political side is shown without question in 'What If Punk Never Happened', the final track on this album, and 'Underneath this Lamppost Light' and 'Out of Luck' proving his love song writing skills. Overall one hell of a listen whether it be the first or thousandth time through.

"If music be the food of Love...

Then I'm a fat romantic slob." What more can I say...

My top 15 albums of 2009.

A bit late, I know, but last year was a fantastic year for new music - or music that was new to me. This list doesn't necessarily include just albums that were released in 2009, but albums I discovered. Some I'd been waiting for with bated breath for a long time, some I was introduced to through acquaintances, and some I'd forgotten about and were brought back into my life. I've also loosely used the term '2009'. I've been working on-and-off on this since April, so I'll say it's more based around the last 12 months or so from when I started.

I noticed when reading through how big a post I had in the making... To make it easier, I'll release one album at a time :)

Right, here goes:

No particular order (except maybe 5-1)

15. glassJAw - Worship and Tribute

Released in 2002, their second and final full-length (for now), it was a few years later when I first encountered glassJAw. I was only just discovering the hardcore genres, Brand New's Deja Entendu being some of the heavier stuff I was listening to at the time. This was the period where I was starting to find my own way in music taste, largely thanks to and the introduction of internet which let me download a song in under an hour.
It was through listening to Head Automatica and looking into Daryl Palumbo's history that I stumbled on glassJAw. I couldn't get into them at all to begin with; there was no sense to be seen through the dropped-D distortion and screaming, a high speed pile-up of guitars, drums and sore throats - utter chaos compared to what I had ever listened to before. Luckily though, my well-trained musical ear was able to sieve out the different parts to the composition; to hear the melodies behind the driving drums and bass riffs - and it was awesome.
Seeing them perform in January of this year was a phenomenal experience. This is the main reason Worship and Tribute is on this list. Had I not gone to see them it would probably have been another of those albums that were just part of a phase I'd gone through once upon a time, but their energetic live set, and such cult following even years after their several-year hiatus, gave me so much more admiration for them as a band than I had ever given them before.
Also listen to: "You Think You're John Fucking Lennon"

Monday, 9 August 2010

A New Chapter

I think I'm going to write a short story. I think it'll be a first-person narative. I think I have a plot and a main character. I think it's going to be set across the bredth of North Wales. I think it's going to involve a sheep farmer at some point. I think there will be a distanced maiden, a drug circulation, and ever-watchfull wildlife. I think I have the patience to see it through. I think I may struggle for motivation though. I think I'm gonna just give up now. I think...

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

There's a clear dead end,
but it's one I can pass,
for I have no body,
hold no shape, bear no mass.
I float down the tunnel,
a maze of brown and amber,
away from the daylight,
into a warm, darkened chamber.
I nestle in the branches,
every cove, every niche.
Like a slug, I leave my mark,
and in a breath I'm set free.

Who am I?

Saturday, 1 May 2010

You're never too old to par-tay.

Unless you believe in all this 'afterlife' malarkey, it should be apparent to most people that you only get one chance at life. I suggest you take a leaf out of this old bird's book and damn well make the most of it!

The Beauty of the Dynamic

This is without a doubt one of my favourite pieces of music. The orchestration, the slow build-up, all equates to a phenomenally moving piece of music. Filming this live recording really shows how the numerous musical sections are arranged and pieced together, each part no less important that the next in creating the tear-provoking atmosphere achieved by Sigur Rós in so many of their works. Nine and a half minutes over way too soon.

Best experienced in a dark room, good earphones or speakers, and no distractions. Enjoy.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

How hard can it be... find a good pair of jeans? I mean, seriously:

I have seven pairs of jeans.
Two have a rip in the crotch. That leaves five.
One has half a leg holding on by a single thread. That leaves four.
One pair are black but have a hole in the thigh to reveal my ghostly white skin. That's three left.
One of these three are a good four inches too much in the waist. Two remaining.
The newest of the remaining two are three months old and have a hole in the pocket wide enough for my phone to fall through. One.
I have one pair of jeans that I wear on a regular basis. These same jeans also have the crotch space to accommodate for a Blue Whale.

That's not one pair of 'decent' jeans.

The only real mind-fuck is how I've not noticed this in the last few years.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Tonight I sat and smoked myself to cancer,
Thinking, is this really the answer?
To the dashed hopes and heartbreak of two months gone,
It'll be a few new moons til I move on.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

"As I stand before an unresponsive automatic door, just another door that won't open for me anymore.." - John K Samson

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

It's time to stop worrying and start living. One step at a time.

Drivin' home for... Easter?

Well, I didn't drive exactly, public transport had to suffice. This is my first (successful) trip home since Christmas, and one that's been waiting to happen for some time. A fairly late decision, I also have a female guest coming to stay with me over the Easter weekend. Hamlet, also lovingly known as 'Fatty' or 'Ham', is a wonderfully daft and stunningly cute hamster, and would be residing on my desk for the next few days, helping me gorge on what Easter treats came my way.
It's the Thursday night that I decide to jump the strenuous one-hour train back from Bangor. After a somewhat traumatic departure from the station bench for Hamlet, leaving half her sawdust and food on the platform, the rest of the journey goes fairly hassle-free. Unfortunately for my wallet, I look slightly less inconspicuous with a hamster cage on my lap. Good job it's pay day...
As always, I managed to find myself a window seat on the platform side of the train; on the coastal side of the train. Thanks to the clock changes last week, my views were glorious all the way from Bangor to Flint; with the exception of Rhyl, though I don't think anyone could argue with me there. Along with iPod accompaniment, it was a pretty decent journey as far as train travel goes.
My Dad was there to pick me up from Flint station. First impressions on my companion: 'She doesn't half smell...' I'm not sure what Fatty thought of our bumpy, winding country roads. She wasn't used to such torture having only really travelled by train or dual carriageway before. She was still alive by the time we arrived home though, so all was good.
Mother Dearest, being motherly and all that, couldn't help but open the door in expectation of greeting her only - and therefore, favourite - son's arrival. As soon as I walked in the door, I felt as if I had never left for uni. It was exactly as I remembered leaving it after Christmas, apart from the obvious lack of small conifers and tinsel. The only change to my bedroom was my post: my Brand New 'The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me' LP and a pair of gig tickets.
First job of the day: fix the printer. I swear they only get me back here to serve as their IT consultant. Two weeks ago, I'd told them 'Just put the disc in the laptop, it'll tell you what to do.' Urrghh.
Friday. Sorry, Good Friday. I had one plan for this day: pub. Until then, the day was to be wasted in whatever way I saw fit. Turned out that meant sleeping till 2, watching Supernatural IN bed until 5, then getting ready and walking down to Mold for 7. Who needs a car, right? It's only four miles. Shorter if you know the back lanes! And at my pace, I was at Andy's house in 35 minutes.
Andy is my best mate of a good nine years, though I've known him since Beaver Scouts when I was 5 or 6. Now in Reading doing Quantity Surveying (counting bricks, apparently) I don't get to see very much of him at all. Every time I see him nowadays, he's looking slightly more dapper every time.. The doing of all the 'toffs' down South, I believe.
One picked up, we head into town for the usual - Beer & Burger in Wetherspoon's. It didn't disappoint. Rob would later meet us for a few rounds, though not too many for himself due to a somewhat heavy night in Chester the previous eve. Apparently, supposedly 'sporty' Rob now smokes! SHOCK! HORROR! Good to know I'm not the only one though..
I'd ordered my taxi for 12:30 - not too early, not too late. That's how I roll.. I can honestly say I've never had such an intellectual conversation with a cab driver. In the short 10 minute drive, I'd been given a tip as to where I could apply for summer voluntary work in wildlife conservation, just down the road in Rhydymwyn. Apparently this guy's cousin was an Ocean Scientist of some description, and had been based in Antarctica for the last three months doing work with ice cores - exactly what I'd been learning about this semester in Bangor! Small world, Mold.
Thankfully my sister, Sarah, was on the computer in the study, as the front door key hadn't been left under the mat as had been arranged.. BREAD! Bread bread bread. Bed.
Saturday, and it's afternoon again before I rise. Soon as I do, it's Tesco time - Easter egg time! It's a pretty good haul this year - now that Sarah has followed my legacy of working in McDonald's, she too is treating the family at this time of giving. NOM NOM NOM.
The only other afternoon activity involves carrying a shed a few yards and converting to a chicken coop. Riveting.
On Sunday, I wonder what I managed to dwindle away Saturday doing. This evening, I'm treating the family to my, and I quote, 'awesome' pasta bake. I couldn't find my usual choice of pasta sauce - Ragu - in Tesco, settling instead for Dolmio. I'm doing my speciality - quorn and pea. I may have slightly burnt the cheese on top, but I put that down to lack of experience with the oven in question. Dolmio proved a great success, the only cock-up being my Dad spilling some sauce on Mother Dearests WHITE settee cover. Janet ti'n DDIM HAPUS efo Wyn!
Another evening of Supernatural ensues, fueled by yet more Easter egg. Two seasons in a week ain't bad going...
Bank Holiday Monday. The very thought of the possible train congestion puts me off travelling back to Bangor today. Instead I spend the day watching MORE Supernatural and eating mini eggs. Hamlet profited from the Easter egg tradition, finding herself a shiny new Creme Egg box to live in. Today she also went mental on her water bottle, soaking herself and my external harddrive. Crazy bitch...
Tuesday = BANGOR! Hurrahh! Instead of the 10:39 from Flint I end up missing each and every hourly train until 4:39 - one due to a slow tractor, the rest due to sleeping late. We're greeted at the station by rain and wind. I don't really know why I was surprised at the typical Welsh weather, but it somewhat dampened my enthusiasm for the place. This wasn't much helped by the 20-minute walk home, but it was soon relinquished by my house mate Will bounding down the stairs as I walked in.
I was back, my home away from home, though it feels more like my real home than anywhere else.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Too much of a good thing is bloody marvellous!

Friday, 2 April 2010

Word of warning:

Never trust a skinny chef.

Saturday, 27 March 2010


I'm embarking on a nine hour flight to discover the wonders of New England, US of A. It's our first family holiday outside of the UK since a two week excursion to Austria when I was 10. Now at 17, I'd just finished Sixth Form and had a free summer to do as I pleased before the dreaded results day in August. My sister was in the same boat having just finished sitting her GCSE's. The 'Rents' had obviously planned ahead with this one, knowing full well that we'd both be free of education before most families, and so booked this year's holiday before the fever season. I had great expectations after last year's lovely-yet-tame 'Discover Ireland' experience..
KLM Royal Dutch Airline flight from Amsterdam to Boston. Seat J4. Centre aisle. No window; no view...
A fairly fault-free take-off - just the way I like it. I don't fly often, this being my fourth ever time on a plane. The first two were somewhat bad experiences, namely due to the excruciating tooth ache playing havoc to and from Austria. I love the feeling of being thrown back into the seat by the immense forces of acceleration, leaving my vital organs halfway down the runway, the pit of my stomach desperately wanting to stay at one with it's old friend gravity. I had quickly established the take-off to be my favourite part of any flight, soaring into the air, turning and accelerating onto the pre-set flight path providing that real sense of flying.
Twenty minutes into the flight - I'm bored. In-flight entertainment includes such hit films as Vantage Point, The Negotiator, and Gone in 60 Seconds. Tempting though they are, I opt for the iPod and Of Mice and Men. One hour and not enough chapters later, I've finished the book, and I look for some other source of inspiration to keep my mind busy. I start drawing. Drawing what? The enticing view in front of me, of course! That view being the back of seat I3. Great detail is involved in this creation, fine strokes of blue Parker ball-point pen gliding across the pages of my Laurel and Hardy Museum notepad.
It's now that the thoughts started cropping up. I'm an evolutionist, an avid believer in science and technology, and had never before doubted the capabilities of an aircraft. Literally thousands of flights take place every day across the globe. And how many of those thousands end up on the News at 10, shown to have plummeted back to Earth in a raging inferno or skating the surface of the ocean and transferring its cargo to inflatable dinghy's. At this point my mind starts giving itself something of a reality check:
"WHAT AM I DOING!? I'm in a giant, comfy tin can, hurtling through the Stratosphere at I'm-not-sure-I-want-to-know what velocity, and I expect to survive to tell the tale! PAH! I may as well be suited up and laid to rest, I'm already in my coffin of aluminium and rivets. Hopefully the cremation may be swift enough for my ashes to ride the Gulf Stream and scatter over the seven seas!
I had much higher hopes (not literally) of a grander send-off that this. Perhaps to die with my loved ones around me, or watching the Sun set over the mountains I'd been raised to love with that one special person, or, maybe even taking a bullet to save those same people. I would have also expected something at least half-decent as a last meal to be honest.. But, alas, it's 'Sweet or Savoury?', 'Chicken or Vegetable?' - not quite the cuisine I would have hoped for. I'm not even old enough for a decent drink!
But, after my little mental rant, I re-found my faith in the aero-physicists, science boffins, nerds if you will, behind this Goliath flying contraption. Whatever physics and witchcraft had gone into holding this Boeing 737 above the clouds was beyond me, but, it was working. So far, so good. I could only hope that I ended up in the lucky majority who don't crash and burn, burn and burn some more.
My mind now at ease, I set the iPod to shuffle and prepare myself for another seven and a half hours of deep thought.
Two hours in - 'The Negotiator'. It was bound to happen...
If you don't expect great things,
then you won't get disappointed.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Okay, so...

Over the last few years I've had phases, big and small, where I've just scrawled down whatever happens to be going on inside my head and outside in the life I've lead. They take form as narratives, poems, simple one-liners, even songs at times (though usually swiftly disposed of). I've developed a mind-set lately that thoughts, feelings and views on anything and everything should be expressed openly, as opposed to keeping everything deep within. Hell, if everyone did that, we'd all be screwed..

Anyway, this blog will now allow all you lucky, lucky people to take a quick trip into some of my patchy thoughts from the last few years. Patchy? Well, even I can't tell what some of it was written about, if I can read it at all. I may describe what's going on and why a post ever came to be, or I may just leave them for you to interpret as you will.

I warn you now - a lot of it seems complete bollocks and makes NO sense to me. Good luck!
I have a blog! Woo!