Category Archives: thoughts, etc

THIS BLOG IS DEAD

Find my new blog at njmitchell.wordpress.com

Thanking you.

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Help save the old Edinburgh Odeon cinema

Odeon cinema, Edinburgh

Since it closed down around five years ago, the old Odeon cinema on Clerk Street, Edinburgh has been subject to various rumours of regeneration and redevelopment, some good, some bad. But the latest plan is to gut the interior, demolish the historic auditorium and create yet another ’boutique hotel’ on the site.

This proposal has been backed by Edinburgh Council in an example of money triumphing over good sense, and now the last barrier to the loss of an architectural treasure is Historic Scotland, who have the final say.

When I was a first year student living just down the road I was a regular visitor to the Odeon. I remember watching big movies like Gangs of New York, The Matrix (one of the sequels) and Die Another Day on the massive screen. OK, not the finest cinematic gems, but when the place was packed on a Friday night (which it usually was), there was a definite sense of occasion.

So I urge anyone who also remembers the Odeon, or anyone who is fed up with blatant profiteering masquerading as ‘urban redevelopment’, to sign this online petition.

And you can stay up-to-date with the campaign at this Facebook group.

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A list of bands, musicians, pop stars and rappers on Twitter

Calvin Harris' tweetsRemember a few years ago when every cultural commentator and his uncle was heralding a new age of direct communication between artist and fan via the wonder of MySpace? Well Twitter takes this trend to its ultimate conclusion, so now we know exactly when Nick Cave is “drinking my eleventh strawberry daiquiri and talking to Tracy Pew via Ouiji board” or when Calvin Harris is simply asking the world, “am I a cunt?”

Yes… and they’re not the only ones. The music world is gradually discovering the ultra-immediate, 140-character realm of inhuman contact that Twitter provides. Admittedly, many bands and singers have started accounts only to leave them vacant after a few posts (Lily Allen), some are guilty of spamming you silly with endless whimsy (MC Hammer), while others are clearly just façades for the stars’ marketeers/web monkeys (Britney Spears, Oasis).

But despite all this, I still find it fascinating (especially when it goes wrong) and I reckon we’re gonna see an upsurge of artists joining in the next year. So I’ve made this list of bands, singers and rappers already on Twitter as a reference for anyone else who’s interested. Please leave a comment if you’ve come across anyone I’ve missed. And of course, feel free to follow me @NickMitchell.

Calvin Harris

Tom Waits

Bloc Party

Dananananaykroyd

We Are The Physics

Broken Records

Nick Cave

Roots Manuva

Britney Spears

Kanye West

Boom Bip (from Neon Neon)

Notorious BIG (from beyond the grave, obv)

Kurt Cobain (ditto)

Trent Reznor (NIN)

Robert Smith (The Cure)

Tokyo Police Club

Michael Jackson (OK, maybe not)

AC/DC

Erykah Badu

Timbaland

Lily Allen

Weezer

Port O’Brien

Ghostface Killah

Gnarls Barkley

The Teenagers

The Raconteurs

The Duke Special

Questlove (The Roots)

Bondo do Role

Jay Reatard

Peter Bjorn and John

The Wombats

Oasis

Hadouken!

Funeral For A Friend

The Subways

Hot Hot Heat

Soulwax

Lil Wayne

Chris T-T

Snoop Dogg

MC Hammer

Jack Penate

Muse

P.S. It’s not very rock’n’roll though is it? I can’t imagine Keith Moon tapping away at his laptop: “drove Rolls into hotel pool, woopsy!”

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Catching up with Flight of the Conchords

Flight of the ConchordsYeah, you’re probably thinking I’m oh-so-behind-the-pack by only now blogging about New Zealand-in-New York musical comedy duo Flight of the Conchords. Fair enough. The first season of their sitcom premiered on American TV in 2006, and they were even nominated for the Perrier Award at the festival of my hometown, Edinburgh, in 2003.

So it’s inexcusable that I’m only now joining their no doubt uber-cool fanbase. But anyway, I got the Season One DVD boxset for my Christmas, watched the first six episodes, and I confirm that it is very, very funny. It does take a while to ‘get it’, and there’s more than a little suspicion that they’ve seen the Mighty Boosh a few too many times, but it still feels quite original, and how can you not like a sitcom about two clueless indie blokes set in New York, who burst into spontaneous, insincere love songs at the drop of a hat?

Season Two starts on January 18  on HBO and the online premiere is available on Will Ferrell’s Funny or Die website – for Americans only unfortunately. But what do I care? I’ve still got the rest of Season One to enjoy. In the meantime, are you ‘into it’…?

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‘Hallelujah’, cries Leonard Cohen’s accountant

'Cheers', says Leonard CohenIt’s looking more and more likely that one song could occupy number one and two in the Christmas singles chart this year – an unprecedented achievement at this or any time of the year.

What’s more uncertain is which version will pip the other to the festive top spot: X Factor winner Alexandra Burke’s rendition of Leonard Cohen’s exquisite, Old Testament-informed love song ‘Hallelujah’, or the late American singer/songwriter Jeff Buckley’s version, which has already been held up as one of the finest covers ever recorded.

Buckley’s version was catapulted back into the charts thanks to a Facebook campaign by fans presumably terrified that such a perfect song could be ‘tarred with the X Factor brush’.

But the general public, who’ve probably never heard of Buckley (or Cohen for that matter) and probably don’t use Facebook, and probably don’t care about such things as a song’s reputation, are already snapping up Burke’s version in the thousands, to the extent that it is already seen as an unstoppable Christmas number one.

The cynical view is that the whole ‘controversy’ is not about artistic integrity though; it’s intended to get people to buy records, so the PRs will be rubbing their hands with glee while millions of people debate which version should win, and put their money where their mouth is.

Personally, I think Burke’s warbling effort is a bloody travesty, and I’d like to see anything but an X Factor drone win Christmas number one. Alternatively, I’d like to see someone actually make a Christmas record, although ‘Hallelujah’ certainly has a Christmassy feel.

But in the end, perhaps the most important result of all this is that Leonard Cohen, one of the greatest songwriters of the past fifty years, gets a little financial boost this Christmas after his manager nicked his retirement fund.

Which is the best ‘Hallelujah’? Compare below…

Jeff Buckley

Alexandra Burke

Leonard Cohen

John Cale

Bob Dylan

Rufus Wainwright

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Poll of polls, or, Best of the best-of-2008 album countdowns

A music writer casts his voteConfession: I’ve had some free time lately.

I had to use up the rest of my holiday entitlement before 2008 was out, so I now find myself with nine days of welcome but unproductive home-time in mid-December.

My internet browsing is on the high end of the scale at the busiest of times, so inevitably my modem has been working overtime as I endlessly, inanely surf the web in search of… what?

News, snippets of useless information, Wikipedia facts about minor film actors, the mindnumbing allure of Facebook, the still mystifying appeal of Twitter… and best-of-2008 music polls.

And so I’ve been wondering about year-end polls:

Are they reliable barometers of the very best music created over the past twelve months?

Or…

Are they totally whimsical, subjective, indulgent, show-off lists by various cliques of self-important critics who sneer at mainstream taste?

It’s the latter, of course. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t completely bloody addictive. I have found myself scouring music websites from the other side of the Atlantic desperately seeking out that essential album that somehow escaped my attention.

So to take the poll theme to a whole new level, here’s my poll of the best and worst polls of the year!

The Best

5. Rolling Stone: Props on TV on the Radio, but otherwise a bit tokenistic along the beardy rawk/hip-hop/legends lines. Turned me on to Blitzen Trapper though.

4. Pitchfork Reader’s Poll: Can’t really argue, other than point out its obvious American folksy prejudice.

3. Times: Surprisingly well-informed for a Murdoch rag.

2. Drowned in Sound: Friendly Fires should never be in the top ten, but good to see my #2 choice M83 top a poll.

1. The Skinny: OK, maybe I have to say this, but we really hit the nail on the head again this year, even if my nomination for Late of the Pier unsurprisingly missed the cut! Year of the Rabbit indeed.

The Worst

3. musicOMH: I don’t care how well-intentioned the poll is if they put Elbow at the top.

2. Last FM: Coldplay. Best album of the year? Really?

1. Q magazine: Kings of Leon. Best album of the year? Really?

And is this really the definitive poll of the year, with the top three comprising artists I’ve barely heard of? Surely not!

(I still have a few more days off. Maybe I’ll compile a poll of the best Poles of the year now…)

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The ongoing genius of The Onion

The Onion

The Onion is probably the only website that can be consistently relied on to make me laugh. Others, such as The Daily Mash, have made a valiant effort at importing its news satire to a British audience, but The Onion is the original and best – and has perfected the art of turning mundane reality into mock news.

A couple of pieces this week really hit the nail on the head. First, for anyone who has left a small town behind to live in a city and is planning to return home for Christmas (or Thanksgiving), the tale of Jordan McCabe will ring eerily true:

“Early reports indicate that the mingling of assholes will likely trigger a fight between the hours of 1 a.m. and 2 a.m.”

Secondly, any James Blunt bashing (and bashing of those who buy his records) is always welcome on this blog.

Got any other Onion favourites? Care to share?

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