Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The 100 Club

Yes, it's official: Contrast Podcast has joined the 100 Club. Today Dearest Tim posted the hundredth episode and it's chock-full of songs celebrating the century. So come along and have a listen here to what HRH The Queen (it's true!) is getting so excited about!

(00:00) Sharon Jones - 100 days, 100 nights
Betty from The Royal Family

(04:34) Fun 100 - Computer
ZB from So the wind won’t blow it all away

(07:21) Love of Diagrams - At 100%
Bob from Gimme Tinnitus

(11:32) The Soundtrack of our lives - 21st century ripoff
Chris from Phosphorous.net

(15:35) Maxi Priest - Full 100
Mark from Cinema Du Lyon

(21:06) The Byrds - One hundred years from now
Brian from State Fare

(23:56) NOFX - 100 times fuckeder
Marcy from Lost in your inbox

(25:59) Lyres - 100cc’s (Pure Thrust)
FiL from Pogoagogo

(29:11) Generation X - One hundred punks
Dirk from Sexy Loser

(33:03) Carlton Rees - 99 and a half won’t do
Matthew from Song by Toad

(36:35) Nick Lowe - One’s too many and a hundred ain’t enough
Anna from the Music I-Quiz

(39:30) The Anniversary - A hundred ships
SiD from Too Much Rock

(45:23) Shout out louds - 100 degrees
Crash from Pretending life is like a song

(49:26) The Cure - One hundred years
Eiron from A Blog of No Importance

(56:25) The Divine Comedy - I’ve been to a marvellous party
JC from The Vinyl Villain

(01:01:00) The Offspring - One hundred punks
Andy from Circles of Concrete

(01:04:33) The Tragically Hip - At the hundredth meridian
Thom from Better in the dark

(01:08:17) The Pixies - Oh my golly
John from And you’ll never hear surf music again

(01:10:30) The Loved Ones - 100K
James from Appetite For Distraction

(01:13:51) Roy Harper - When an old cricketer leaves the crease
Stuart Dade

I was most surprised to see that no-one submitted those Wunderkinder of the 80s, Haircut 100. No, really, admit it, you're shocked as well. So here they are - hey, camisas! Indeed...

Haircut 100 - Favourite Shirt (Boy Meets Girl) (buy here)

I briefly considered submitting Sonic Youth's 100%, but decided that all that hipster talk about sticking knives in heads wasn't in keeping with the celebratory spirit of things. Have a listen, you'll hear wot I mean...

Sonic Youth - 100% (buy here)

OK, OK, here's where I come clean. The glib reference to the 100 Club above has given me the thinnest of excuses to post a clutch of the best punk songs evah! Why? Well, the 100 Club Punk Festival, that's why. Yes, I'm talking about those seminal (now legendary and mythical) two days in September 1976 where that London jazz club saw eight bands bring the white light/white heat of early punk out from the underground. Far more people claim to have attended than ever possibly could have. I certainly didn't and don't know anyone who did. But oh, in the words of Cher, if I could turn back time...

Sex Pistols - Nookie (buy here)
Vibrators - Pogo Dancing (try eBay)
Damned - Neat Neat Neat (buy here)
Siouxsie & The Banshees - Mittageisen (Metal Postcard) (buy here)
Subway Sect - Nobody's Scared (buy here)
The Clash - White Riot (buy here)
Buzzcocks - Boredom (buy here)

Oh, that's only seven bands? Er, heh heh, um, you'll let me get away without playing any Stinky Toys, won't you?? Here, have a look at The Clash. That'll take your mind off things...

Yes, I digressed, but you'll thank me for it later. Next week, CP gets all Orwellian on your ass and asks you for episode 101 to face your greatest fear. Find out how over here.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Waiting For The Plague To Move On

It's all disease and pestilence round our way, and has been to one degree or another for the past month. It's been coming in relentless waves of increasing intensity, and the body count as of today stands as follows:

  • FiL pasted to the sofa for the past two days with a rotten, feverish head cold
  • Dearest Wife nursing a fortnight-old, low-grade, energy-sapping bug of some sort
  • Darling Daughter in bed for several days with a fever, congestion, and a raw throat
  • Little Man confined to bed this evening after having thrown up spectacularly not once, but thrice
This too shall pass - sooner rather than later, please...

Les Savy Fav - Raging in the Plague Age (buy here or e-here)
Mudhoney - Here Comes Sickness (buy here)
Depeche Mode - Shake the Disease (buy here)
Taxi Taxi - Family Doctor (buy e-here)

P.S. Tales from the Double Down to come, health permitting...

Friday, February 22, 2008


Your mornings will be brighter
Break the line
Tear up rules
Make the most of a million times no

For Dearest Nico.

Bauhaus - Hope (buy here)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Make Mine A 99

Through the eyes of lazigaze

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream. Well then, it's a bloody good thing that the Contrast Podcast is overflowing with the stuff this week. Yes, Dearest Tim a.k.a. Mister Whippy has fired up the van and this week's Dearest Contributors have provided a delicious variety of musical flavours for your tasting. Go on, try the lot over here, and let everyone know what your favourite is over here.

The menu:

(00:00) John Brim - Ice cream man
Tim from The face of today

(03:16) Tom Waits - Ice cream man
Eiron from A Blog of No Importance

(06:45) Thao Nguyen - Bag of hammers
Ross from Just gimme indie rock

(09:39) Michael Hearst - Where do ice cream trucks go in winter?
Linda from Speed of dark

(13:51) The Undertones - Here comes the summer
Dirk from Sexy Loser

(17:28) Sister Vanilla - Down
Crash from Pretending life is like a song

(21:18) Dinosaur Jr - Feel the pain
JC from The Vinyl Villain

(26:26) Lee Konitz - Ice cream Konitz
ZB from So the wind won’t blow it all away

(29:23) The Dropkick Murphys - The rocky road to Dublin
James from Appetite For Distraction and
Andy from Circles of Concrete

(32:40) The KLF (featuring Tammy Wynette) - Justified and Ancient (Stand by the JAMS)
FiL from Pogoagogo

(39:32) Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band - Ice cream for crow
Chris from Phosphorous.net

(44:45) Joni Mitchell - Both sides now
Natalie from Mini-obs

For the benefit of those not versed in British cultcha, there's a reason Dearest Tim chose the theme of "Ice Cream" for episode 99. You see, a "99" is a cone of soft ice cream with a finger-length bar of flaky chocolate stuck in it. Indeed, the choco-digit is itself known as a 99 Flake, though no one is really sure whence the numerical nomenclature. So whole generations of British sproglets grew up asking for a 99 from dodgy men in rickety vehicles playing creepy music.

I chose my contribution for four reasons: it namechecks an ice cream van, it's awesome, it features Tammy Wynette, and it features the lyric "make mine a 99." So the first and last of these qualified it for inclusion. I didn't have too much else to scoop this week, but these might have ended up in the sundae:

Ariane - Ice Cream (on this CD, which I have but dunno where you can buy it...)
Yeah, yeah, yé-yé!! I was sorely tempted to dish up this bit of French (yes, I know she was Belgian, but give me some artistic license, willya?) vanilla, but I had already submitted it for CP's first birthday last year. Anyway, it recounts the story of an ice-cream-loving fille and her gin-swilling partner who have a thing going on, despite their differing appetites. All of this set, of course, to a hip, swingin beat, daddy-o...

The Dickies
- The Banana Splits (buy here)
Silly punkiness a go-go!! For those who didn't grow up in the American idiom, The Banana Splits was a kids show from the late sixties / early seventies starring a beagle, a lion, a gorilla, and an elephant, all of whom were on some sort of psychotropic drugs.

Next week marks CP's 100th episode! Help celebrate by submitting something suitably hundredesque - find out how over here.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

It's a Joke

I'm not very good at telling jokes. Really. My humour tends to be more situational, observational, absurd. But at least I'm not as offensive (I think) as Yuri, the deranged owner of Klub Ra-Ra-Rasputin who introduces my submission to this week's Contrast Podcast episode of joke intros. Download the hilarity here, but beware: some of the intros are very blue indeed.


(00:43) George W. & Tom Compagnoni - Imagine

Rick and Kristi from Are you embarassed easily?

(06:04) The Ms - Mansion in the valley

Marcy from Lost in your inbox

(09:24) Chumbawamba - Look! No strings!

SiD from Too Much Rock

(14:49) CSS - Alcohol

Crash from Pretending life is like a song

(17:51) The Jam - News of the world

Ross from Just gimme indie rock

(22:34) The Lucksmiths - I started a joke

Natalie from Mini-obs

(27:35) Simon & Garfunkel - At the Zoo

Mark from Cinema Du Lyon

(30:55) The Handcuffs - I’m not laughing

FiL from Pogoagogo

(35:39) Bowling for soup - I’ll melt with you

Linda from Speed of dark

(40:30) Gene Vincent - Who slapped John?

Tim from The face of today

(44:39) Beth Orton - Someone’s daughter

Anna from the Music I-Quiz

(49:53) The Shop Assistants - I don’t wanna be friends with you

Dirk from Sexy Loser

(52:36) Dolby’s Cube - Howard the duck

Thom from Better in the dark

(57:26) Edward Dade - Concertina Medley

Stuart Dade

(01:02:29) Puzzled Panthers - Now I hear the laughter

Eiron from A Blog of No Importance

(01:09:13) The Smiths - That joke isn’t funny anymore

JC from The Vinyl Villain

(01:13:31) Islands - Where there’s a will there’s a whalebone

Brian from State Fare

(01:18:22) Ozma - Apple trees

James from Appetite For Distraction

(01:22:27) The Dandy Warhols - Cool as Kim Deal

John from And you’ll never hear surf music again

(01:26:21) Blind Lemon Jefferson - He arose from the dead

Pieter from Two tramps in mud time

(01:31:10) Tante Felipe - haahaaAA

ZB from So the wind won’t blow it all away

OK, so what other songs of mirth and merriment almost made my laugh track? Well, these:

Josef K - Sorry for Laughing (buy here)
Yes, Dearest Ally posted this track not three weeks ago, along with a gorgeous bit of Postcard Records literature. So go over and have a look.

The Adicts - It's a Laugh (buy here or e-here)
A right knees-up from everyone's favourite old-tyme droog punks.

The Wedding Present - Don't Laugh (buy here or e-here)
Any excuse to post the amazing Weddoes.

Oh, alright. Just one joke: Why is the mushroom so popular? Because he's a fungi to be with.

*Wind whistles, tumbleweed tumbles, crickets chirp*

Fine, have it your way. Watch this instead:

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Unmoored in Vegas

Not mine, but his

What a long, strange trip it has been...

I think it was last Sunday evening that it realy hit me, when I had already been in Vegas for four days (or four nights, as it seems more appropriate to measure Vegas time in terms of nights). I was wandering The Strip, on my way to somewhere, when suddenly I came unmoored. The ching-ching-ching-whoop of the slots, the all-permeating stench of stale cigarette smoke mixed with cheap air freshener, the swirly-whirly carpets, the tight-lipped and desperate hunched like carrion crows over the gaming tables, the cheap buffets of all-you-can-eat / nothing-I-want-to-eat "food," the totalitarian architecture of Fun, the crablike Mexicans swaddled against the desert cold flick-flick-clicking cards that promised you your own private dancer (a dancer for money). And at that point I could no longer conceive of a time before or a place other than Vegas. I was adrift.

Suicide - Goin' to Las Vegas (buy here or e-here)

Indeed, seven days in the belly of that city was too much, waay too much for me. It was my second visit, and I still couldn't buy into the myth, the sacred narrative of a city where everything is possible, where you can sin without censure, where Big Brother says You Will Have Fun. To me it was all so contrived, and I couldn't help but see the manufactured sinews and muscles that held it all together, like the flayed, plastinated cadavers on display at The Tropicana. The heart of Vegas has no soul.

But Dearest Friends, don't think that I did not enjoy myself at all. Oh no, I had some good times on my trip - they were just around the edges. For the first 72 hours I had the unalloyed pleasure of Dearest T's company. As I mentioned below, we had planned on indulging in a few excesses, and I would be lying if I said we didn't enjoy a few nice meals and drank a wee bit too much (Gluttony), drop a few dollars in very half-hearted gambling (Avarice), sleep in a tad (Sloth) and admire some pulchritudinous ladies (Lust). But we enjoyed ourselves most when we were off The Strip - the further off, the better...

We escaped frequently in our big, fat rented Dodge Avenger, first to the legendary Hoover Dam. We stopped en route at Boulder City's Southwest Diner for a proper greasy brunch, and Those Potatoes were delish. The Dam is an impressive monument both to human engineering and to the socio-historic context that caused it to be built. The police checkpoints on its approach were a monument to present day politics. From the dam we drove into Arizona, then back again and around the peculiar, man-made contours of Lake Mead, reaching the astounding silence and stunningly improbable rock formations of the Valley of Fire State Park around sunset. Then we drove back in inky, velvet blackness, able to take bearings only when the neon grid of Vegas hove back into view.

Another foray to the fringe of the city saw us explore our inner Rambo at a Rent-A-Popgun range. Nevada is a gun freak's wet dream; all you need to get your own little piece of lead-spitting death is a state driving license. And for $150, anyone can have the Combat Special experience: one magazine of ammo through each of a silenced .45 pistol, two 9mm full-automatic submachine guns, and a 12-gauge semiautomatic shotgun. Well, why not, we thought? When in Rome...

The Clash - Tommy Gun (buy here)

The episode left me, a believer in Draconian gun control, somewhat perturbed. Our rangemaster, a cubic hunk of muscle with a buzz-cut, commented on my weak grip as the pistol jammed round after round. I'm sure he thought my liver was carpeted in lilies. The submachine guns were frightening for two reasons. First, they were rather fun, in a Boy's Own way. Second, it was terrifyingly easy for Lily-Livered FiL to put a spray of bullets into the chest area of the paper silhouette some 21 feet away. When it came to the shotgun, Dearest T warned me that I'd feel it in my shoulder. Mister Cubic guffawed, then commented that he'd put 300 rounds through just such a scattergun and had felt nothing. He admitted, however, that he had been distracted by the people firing back at him. Ye gods!! Well, suffice to say my shoulder ached for days after, and my faith in stern firearm laws was reinforced tenfold.

Gang of Four - Armalite Rifle (buy here)

Overall, my Combat Experience left me feeing rather sordid, as if I had just partaken of some degrading yet titillating bit of pornography. I was therefore rather pleased when we got back in the Avenger and decided to drive towards California, with no particular goal in mind. We drove across the Mojave Desert on an arrow-straight, satin-smooth blacktop that unrolled in front of us from here to the horizon. Dearest T, having had a proper English upbringing, couldn't share in the cheesy perfection of the moment when Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" popped on the mp3 player several miles past the Californian border. But I did rue omitting The Normal's "Warm Leatherette" from the playlist. We eventually ended up in Baker, CA (population 914), home to the World's Tallest Thermometer and The Mad Greek Diner, who's questionable claim to serve the best gyros in America was more than offsett by the blue, vinyl booths and in-yer-face expressions of Hellenic supremacy. After (yet another) greasy meal, we hopped back into the car and red-lined it through the evening back to Sin City, where we caught a shabby but entertaining magic show at The Greek Isles, a frayed hotel just off the edge of The Strip that had, like its patrons, seen far, far more glamourous days.

Journey - Don't Stop Believin' (buy here)
The Normal - Warm Leatherette (buy here)

Dearest Friends, you would be excused if, after reading this, you were to think that my trip to Vegas was largely tolerated rather than enjoyed. But that would be incorrect. For I have neglected to tell you about the place I discovered where my spirit found comfort amidst a smoky haze, strong beer, fine folk, and righteous music.

Stay tuned for stories from the Double Down Saloon...

P.S. Oh yes, the conference. Well, the gist was: the US economy is ropey, house prices will continue to plunge, it'll take three to four years to recover, no-one is quite sure what to do, capitalism is bankrupt, and we need to find a replacement fast. Well, OK, maybe the last two points were my fanciful additions.