Tuesday, 28 July 2009

The 300th Potato Farm Post.

Blah, blah, 300th blog post, blah.

In other Axl news, I went to Truck festival at the weekend and had a pretty wicked time. Didn't see that many acts, but had great fun hanging out with people, especially the lovely SweetLadyG. Out of the acts I did see, the highlights were definitely the DJ Food & DK set, and the always excellent Supergrass. Awesome times.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Yesterday Part 2.

You know what else happened yesterday that I forgot to write up? I came up with a fucking awesome idea for a story.

I was at Sweet G's and the radio was playing, and suddenly two things simultaneously flashed into my brain. Thing number 1 was that authors sometimes name their books after songs. A relatively recent example of this is the Iain Rankin book "Exit Music", named after the Radiohead song. Another is the William Sutcliffe book "Are You Experienced?", named after the song by The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Thing number 2 was the idea for this story based on the song that was playing on the radio at the time. So here's my idea:

'Friday, I'm In Love'.
A re-telling of the Robinson Crusoe story in which Robinson Crusoe falls in love with Man Friday.

I haven't ironed out the details yet, but you can be sure that when I do, this is going to blatantly be an international bestseller.



Yesterday was a pretty odd day. More about that later tho. First I have some bragging to do.

Yesterday the nominees for the Barclaycard Mercury Music Prize were announced, and Led Bib got nominated, as I predicted they would in my blog post about jazz that I wrote earlier this month. I'm pretty chuffed about that. That also makes it two years in a row that I have correctly predicted a nominee. Also quite chuffed about that.
It's just a shame that Led Bib have virtually no chance of winning.

So what else happened yesterday?

* Someone I know described their period as their "Special time of the month" yesterday. I would love to know what's so special about it, as it seems to me like it would be a pretty unpleasant experience. If I bled out of my cock-end for a few days every month and got cramps along with it, I would not refer to it as being special. I would most likely refer to it as "Oh fuck, not again?!"

* I gave myself an electric shock on my eye. My iPod charger cable was plugged into my laptop, and I was holding the iPod end in my hand, about to put it in my iPod. I went to scratch my nose with it still in my hand, and the thing hit my eye and gave me an electric shock. It really hurt. I don't recommend it.

* I coughed Ribena thru my nose. Pretty self explanatory. Had a mouthful of Ribena, was about to swallow it, I coughed, some of it went thru my nose. It hurt. Not as much as the time I laughed Coca-Cola thru my nose tho.

* I rented 'Bolt' to take round to Sweet Lady G's coz she was feeling ill. I was wearing my Justice t-shirt, which shows the cross from the "†" album cover with a bunch of people on it raising their hands up. I was also wearing a large raincoat. Basically, I looked like a mental evangelical nutter, and I was renting a children's dvd with exact change. The guy in Blockbuster must've thought I was a right weirdo.

* When he gave me the dvd, I said "Cheers very much!" Cheers very much? Yeah nice and smooth Axl. This guy thinks yer a nutjob and you fumble yr words like a tool. You know what's worse? I was so perplexed at having said it, that as I walked out, I said it again, "Cheers very much?!", this time in a questioning-your-own-sanity way, and I said it far too loud. That guy definitely thinks I'm a headcase. I think I'll just post it thru the letterbox when I have to take it back.

* I watched the film "He's Just Not That Into You", which was actually quite offensively bad.
I had been pre-warned that I would have to watch it, and I wasn't expecting to like it, but I thought it would be fun at least on some level.
It isn't tho, it's just AWFUL.
There is not one likable character in the whole thing. All the women are mental and all the men are twats. There are some hideous generalisations made that some people will scarily probably actually take as stone-carved fact, forgetting that we actually live in a world where people are, y'know, different to each other and we don't all feel and react to things in the same way.
This film is not just bad, it's slightly despicable.
But I'm just a guy right? What would I know about a chick-flick? Well, my mate Chloe who watched it with us and who loves chick flicks (and I'm pretty sure Gen told me that Chloe's favourite film is 'Love Actually'), well even she thought it was rubbish. So there you go.

* Stabbed myself in the eye with Gen's glasses while kissing her. Same eye as the electric shock. My right eye pretty much hates me now.

* Ate scampi. Had no idea that the chippy on Iffley Road does scampi. Awesome.

* Watched 'Bolt'. Fun film, I liked it. Excellent attention to detail with the pigeons.

So yeah. That was yesterday.

Today, Oscar has barely been off my lap since I got home so there's been no chance for any incident. I'm listening to Luciano's Fabric mix. I'd forgotten how good it is.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Bizarre Urges.

This is one of those posts that will either make total sense or no sense at all.

Does anyone ever find themselves having real urges to do very odd things while talking to people?
I was having my performance review at work on Sunday, and while my supervisor was talking to me about some boring thing or other, I became transfixed by his eyelashes, and I had this sudden urge to pull them out. Not because I was angry, not because I don't like him (I actually do like my supervisor at work, he can be a bit temperamental sometimes, but on the whole he's pretty ace), more just the fact that in my head flashed the question; "What would happen if I pulled out his eyelashes?"
About 2 or 3 years ago, I went thru a phase where I pretty much couldn't talk to anyone without wondering what would happen if I were to suddenly kiss the person I was talking to. Not because I wanted to kiss them, just because I suddenly wanted to see what would happen if I did. I never acted on any of these, and I didn't even really want to, but that weird urge to do so was always there.
I think I just wanted to see what would happen if people were caught off guard, thrown off balance, faced with the unexpected. I have thoughts like this all the time. "What would happen if I slapped this person in the face?", "What would happen if I told this person to fuck off?", "What would happen if I grabbed this person's arse?", "What would happen if I sang the next thing I was going to say?", "What would happen if I just let out an almighty groan right now?"
I have a friend who says he can't deal with heights, coz he knows he will just want to throw everything in his pockets over the side of wherever he is. This is kinda like that. I have no idea why I think like this, but I do.
My worry about all this is that one day I will lose that controlling voice that says "No Axl, don't be so fucking stupid", and actually end up just doing all this crap that comes into my head. Hopefully tho that won't happen until I'm senile and in some building where hot nurses bring me mugs of hot cocoa. I guess that wouldn't be so bad. Nurses in old people's homes and mental asylums must be used to far worse than this kind of thing, right?

P.S. What is the difference between cocoa and hot chocolate? Seriously, what is it? I have no idea.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Desperate Dan.

Remember Desperate Dan? The cartoon in The Dandy comic?
Why was he called Desperate Dan? I don't remember desperation being one of his personality traits.
What I remember about him was that he was incredibly strong, had a massive chest, dressed like a cowboy, and loved to eat cow pies (which always had horns sticking out of them).
I don't remember him in any way being desperate.
For anything.
So why was he called Desperate Dan?!

Somebody Else's Bedroom.

There's something a little naughty about being in someone else's bedroom when they're not there. I'm round at my mates James & PC's place, and PC's away so I'm sleeping in his room. I can't shake this feeling that there's something a little wrong about it. I've been told that it's fine, but I'm still in someone else's personal private space. It's odd. I feel like I'm in some sort of museum where you can't touch anything. I think that's why it feels so weird, the fact that I'm left alone in a room where I can't really touch anything. I had to move some envelopes to put my laptop down on his desk, and I instantly felt like a naughty child. Like I would be found out and told off. "James said you could sleep in my bed, not move all my stuff around!"
I was about to write something here about PC's room, but even that feels naughty. Like I don't have the right. Like it's an invasion of his privacy.
It's creeping me out. I need to think about something else for a while.
Am I over-thinking this? I have been in an odd mood recently.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

A Blog Post About Jazz.

If you have no interest in jazz, I recommend you don't read this. You will be bored.

Last year I correctly predicted that Portico Quartet would be nominated for the Mercury Music Prize. This year the sponsor has changed to Barclaycard, but I'm assuming that the ethos remains the same, so I'm gonna try and predict another entry. This year I reckon Led Bib will gain a nomination for their album 'Sensible Shoes'.
See, we all know they like to stick in a jazz nomination each year, and Led Bib has exactly the kind of thing the Mercury judges have always looked for in their UK jazz. Something fresh, exciting and innovative. Hence the nominations in recent years of Portico Quartet, Basquillat Strings & Polar Bear (of course, we'll gloss over the Zoe Rahman nomination and pretend it didn't happen. They can't get it right every time I guess).
Led Bib's album is an awesome and exciting slab of modern jazz with 'Free' thinking tendencies. In the same vein as Polar Bear, Fraud and to a certain extent Acoustic Ladyland too. There's a quote on the Led Bib album that says "Proof that groovy dirty jazz isn't just the preserve of downtown New Yorkers."
Ah yes. America. The birthplace and spiritual home of jazz. Still the place to look to for all the best jazz, right? Well no. Wrong on that last point actually. American jazz seems to have become somewhat stagnant and, well, boring. It's been about three years since there was an American jazz album worth getting excited about. In 2006 we were practically spoilt with great albums by Ornette Coleman, Branford Marsalis Quartet, Kenny Garrett, Charles Lloyd, Brad Mehldau Trio, and Anthony Braxton.
Since then? Well the new Branford Marsalis Quartet album sounds like they've run out of ideas, The Brad Mehldau Trio seem to be operating on cruise control, and I can't even think of anyone else worth mentioning.
In that time we have had excellent jazz albums from the UK from Portico Quartet, Neil Cowley Trio, Fraud, Polar Bear, Empirical, along with more decent European jazz albums than you could shake a saxophone at.
My points, and I'm in danger of going off on one and losing them so I'm gonna try and reign them in, are; a) that if you are after some truly forward thinking, interesting, boundary pushing, innovative music, there are a batch of UK jazz bands around at the moment who really can supply it; and b) America is no longer the place to look for great jazz. Europe is doing it so much better.
Case to illustrate point b); Esbjorn Svensson Trio. A truly innovative piano trio who were really making people realise just what could be done with this traditional set up. Then Esbjorn Svensson died. After his death, the album the trio had been working on "Leucocyte" was released. Although not the great album that we were all hoping for, it showed a band in transition, breaking further from the traditional structures and expectations of a jazz trio, and really pushing things forward. A signifier of the experimentation that would have come. One of the truly sad things about Svensson's death was that they were on the verge of going to another musical level, something you get the feeling would've been beyond anything we had ever heard in jazz music.
And when he died, all eyes turned to the Brad Mehldau Trio, who seemed to be the natural successors to the piano trio crown. And what have they done with it? Rested on their laurels, that's what. The problem with them is, is that while they're very good, they pretty much follow the same formula for all their releases. The jazz crowds are looking to the wrong torch bearers. The Neil Cowley Trio are doing far more interesting things. While not quite as technically superior, seeing as they haven't been together as long, their two albums to date are packed with excitement and energy and a real desire. Aside from EST, far more interesting than any other piano trio's output in recent years. And their British. And EST were Swedish.
American jazz needs a kick up the arse. It's become stagnant. All the best stuff now is European.

This is just getting rambly now. I shall stop here.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Something I've Noticed Recently...

...in all the knocking of Gordon Brown that's been going on recently, whether rightly or wrongly, I'm not about to get into a discussion of the mans pros and cons, is that time and time again people keep using the point that we didn't vote for him as a point to use against him.

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure that hardly anyone voted for his predecessor either. See, in the UK we don't have a presidential election. No, in the British General Election, what we do, or what we are supposed to do at least, is vote for the MP that we feel would best serve our interests in Parliament, which will normally coincide with the general party policies and ethos of the party they are a member of. What the individual does is vote for the MP and/or the party that they feel would best represent their interests.
We DO NOT vote for a party leader or Prime Minister. MPs do. Our election process does not put votes toward an overall individual leader, it puts them towards individual MPs and it's the accumulation of MPs that decide what party is put into power.

If you voted Labour because you were voting for Tony Blair, then unless you were living in the constituency he represented, you were wrong to do so, and voting for the wrong reasons. The way we vote for the ruling party in Parliament has nothing to do with whoever is the individual in the position of power. That's not how it works. Therefore saying that we didn't vote for Gordon Brown is a piss poor argument to try and make, because Tony Blair himself wasn't voted into power, the Labour Party was, and it was their MPs who had voted for Tony Blair to lead their party. NOT US!

Foals At The Lexington 1st July 2009.

Probably my personal highlight moment of The Breeders ATP in May came during Foals set. Foals took a bit of a risk and decided to try out some new songs during their Sunday headlining slot (which the NME decided to be a bit cry-baby about during their review, but who takes that rag seriously anymore? If anything it was just further proof of what I and many others have been saying for a while now, that they are no longer actually a music mag and are in fact just the indie-kids version of Heat magazine). It totally paid off. It showed that a) you don't have to do a crowd pleasing set to please a crowd, and b) that anyone who has ever cynically written them off is wrong. This band, whether they stick around for years to come or burn out in a couple, are, for want of a better way to phrase it, the real deal. The best songs of the set were two of the new songs, and the set overall was extremely good, and managed to be a standout of a festival that was full of really fucking good sets. Anyway there was one new song in particular, don't know what it's called, that was just phenomenal. For three or four minutes this song was going, and it was really good, like the same sort of thing that Foals had already done, but a progression of it. A level-up version of Foals if you will. Then they get to the crescendo, and it's good. It's really good. And just as you think they're about to wrap it up, they suddenly kick the song back into life with a part 2, and this part 2 is like that level-up version of Foals taken up by another 4 or 5 levels. It produced sheer, pure excitement in me. It made me literally scream "FUUUUUUUUUUUCK!!!!" then they got to the crescendo. More screaming. THEN IT KICKED IN AGAIN!!! A continuation of Part 2 that came in as if the song had a life of it's own or something. "Woah, what do you think yer doing? Keep it going, I aint done here guys!". Like the song itself took hold of the band and forced a reprise of itself. It was sheer total and utter euphoria.

At The Lexington, Foals were playing a warm up show for their gig supporting Blur at Hyde Park the next day. Now, you could be forgiven for assuming that with a warm up gig, they would you know, be warming up and not make so much effort. Foals aren't like that tho. If they've got a gig, no matter what it is, they go all out with it. So the tiny crowd of us who managed to get tickets were treated to an awesome Foals set, with all the throwing about of selves, the passionate playing and the Yannis climbing on & over whatever he physically can antics that would expect at any Foals show. As with the ATP performance, they air some new songs and show us a taster of what's to come with the next album. About half to two-thirds of the way thru the set they played one of the new songs. It was real good. REAL good. Better than anything they'd played so far. Then it got to the crescendo, and I realised what was coming next. It was a real hairs-on-the-back-of-the-neck moment. Then it kicked in. It was THAT song. Any of you ever get that thing where you're listening to a song, and it's so good and moves and/or excites you so much that your face buzzes? Well I get that, and when part 2 kicked in my face was BUZZING. And the song panned out the same as it had before and all I could think was something the equivalent to that scream of "FUUUUUUUUUUUCK!!!!" that I had before.
And sure, people got more into the familiar ones and danced at their known favourites, but that song, THAT song, that was the moment of the gig that just made you realise the real power of this band.
Fuck, that sounds wanky but seriously, Foals have fucking STRUCK GOLD with that song.

"To keep us young..."

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

R&B Update: A Message To You Humphrey.

From Facebook today:

Humphrey Astley running out of ideas for this thing

Paul 'Axl' Askew
I've got an idea for you. Write an acoustic R&B ballad about how you miss someone. Make sure the chorus has some sort of gimmick to it. Something like "Ohoooowoahoooowoahoooo when I instant message you, ohoooowoahoooowoahoooo I wish I was there with you. IRL baby, real love's what I need baby, it don't mean a thing baby, if we cannot feel each others, loooooooooooooove baaaaaabyyyyyyyyyy."

Go on, I've practically written it for you!

I don't know why, but Humphrey seems not too keen to emphasise on my chorus. He's a fool. When I write the rest of that song and get some hot young thing to sing it, I will make money galore for sure.