Monthly Archives: December 2008

// Merry Christmas // Thanks // Submissions //


3 quick things;

1 // This’ll be the last post of the year, things will be back to normal in early January. Merry Christmas!

2 // Thanks so much to everyone who has visited the blog over the last 4 months, to all the internet folks who gave us props and led people our way, to all the bloggers who added us to their blogroll, to all the bands that sent us music, to all the people who sent nice emails and left nice comments, to Bill from The Mae Shi and Al from The Spook of the Thirteenth Lock for answering our dumb questions, but mostly to YOU, reading this right now, you’re awesome.

3 // We want / need submissions! For a large part of January Nick will be unable to sit here and review all the rubbish I throw at him so I thought seeing as it’s Christmas, and hopefully you’ll be seeing your family, you could (if you want) take an hour to sit down with your Dad / Mum / Brother / Sister / Aunt / Uncle / Granny / Grandad / Son / Daughter / Arch Nemesis / Whatever and play them an album you love and write down their feelings on it. Yeah? No? It’s up to you. Send anything to:

Again, thanks so much and have a rake of deadly dinners this holiday season.

xxx R&N


Sufjan Stevens – Astral Inter Planet Space Captain Christmas Infinity Voyage, Volume VIII (Self Released 2008)


Nick: it’s very nice but……’s the usual problem for me; the electronics just seem like an overlay to give the music some kind of currentness, doesn’t add anything to the music, it’s too easy, I could’ve done this.

the traditional Christmas songs….these versions are nothing but ‘modern’ they’re not better, they’re not definitive.

(track 6 -Joy To The World)

this one is quite nice.

generally it’s all nice but as I say, the electronics are too easy, maybe not to him, maybe it took him a long time to come up with them but to me it sounds far too tacked on and simple.

I always wonder to what extent musicians are driven by their own inner ear to create, or is it what they know to be fashionable, driven by their market as it were.

I reckon most of it is the latter, what they think they should be doing.

and do you thinks that’s the case here? is this fashionable rather than heartfelt?

in this case yes, I have nothing against electronics but I think this time they’re just being used to make the Christmas songs sound ‘cool’ and ‘modern’.

now, I’m probably wrong but that is what it sounds like to me.

This is our old pal Sufjan slightly returning to his ‘Enjoy Your Rabbit’ sound, with gurgling blippy bloppy square waves rolling up and down and all around the Christmas tree. This is not available in shops, unless you like to visit the free internet magic shop that is. What IS available to buy is the Songs for Christmas I-V Boxset, need time to think about purchasing? Why not head over to Mr. Stevens’ Asthmatic Kitty Christmas Website and play a fun Christmas Computer Game or design your own S.S Christmas E-Card or watch Christmas music videos and download free Christmas songs? It’s better than working.

V/A – An Indiecater Christmas (Indiecater 2008)


Seeing as last time we did a compilation, you were taken on an emotional rollercoaster ride of I-like-this-I-hate-this, I thought we’d do this one track by track?

Nick: that makes sense I guess.

:: The Cloud Room – Melody Like Snow ::

has that got anything to do with christmas? maybe the lyrics did but I couldn’t hear them. I don’t think I’d like to hear that on christmas morning.

:: Nina Hynes – Twinkle ::

sorta prettyish, bit over-sentimental, with the little girl voice.

:: Kill Kringle Club – Songs of Noel ::

quite nice, certainly not a classic, it’ll last the season and then disappear into average christmas song heaven, also I didn’t like the way the levels were mixed, there was one sound that was far too strident, they should’ve turned it down, it’s too hard, bit unpleasant.

:: Bill Baird – Christmas in Jail ::

it’s hard to cope with those sentimental messages, it’s a nice song and closer to the classic christmas feel, but the lyrics worry me a bit.

:: Idaho – Santa Claus is Weird ::

santa claus is weird? ahahahaha, that’s correct I guess. well it’s a weird christmas song too.

:: Venice is Sinking – The Grey Line ::

I love all these funny names. this doesn’t have anything to make it stand out.

:: Normandy – Merry Christmas Blogosphere! ::

Nah, nah, not really, she sings out of tune, though I’m overly susceptible to that kind of thing.

:: The Very Most – This Year, Christmas Came November 4th ::

that’s the first one that actually has a hook, a memorable melody, hear it twice and you’d virtually be able to sing along, still nothing outstanding, judging it purely as a christmas song it’s the best so far.

:: Remington Super 60 – Here Comes Christmas ::

very beatle-y, yeah it’s nice, lyrics a bit too easy, they’re not great but it’s quite a memorable melody.

:: Jape & David Kitt – I Will Cry This Christmas ::

that one could’ve been about easter or summer or anything other than christmas, they just dragged the word into the song, but apart from that it’s a nice little ditty, nothing……. (just drifts off)

:: The Specimen – Wish It Would Snow ::

mmmm, pfhh, what can I say? not an awful lot.

:: Nonstop Everything – There is No Santa, Little Boy ::

it’s a piece of music, so it’s got that going for it. if you heard it outside of this record you wouldn’t recognize it as having anything to do with christmas, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. or good for that matter.

:: My Teenage Stride – Is It Christmastime Already? ::

is he singing ‘it’s christmas baby’?


well then it’s out, I think all songs that use ‘baby’ to refer to anything other than a very small child should be outlawed.

I’ve heard you say baby when you’re driving, ‘c’mon! hurry up baby!’ etc, you shout it at other drivers.

REALLY!!?!!  well next time I do it, hit me, it’s detestable, this isn’t the 20’s.

:: Dora Flood – Coastal Winter ::

these are the guys, the dreary ones, they don’t want to be here, singing bored. is it a hangover from punk? there were some carol singers in the shopping centre that sounded like that yesterday.

:: Loxsly – Santa Got the Spins ::

got the spins? is that a DJ expression?

no, its when you get too drunk and the room starts spinning, I assume.

ok well this is definitely my favorite, simple, not trying too hard, has a point to it. and it had an idea, whereas most of the other ones seem to be written without an idea.

:: Track a Tiger – Once in the Wine ::

yeah, nice pleasant, again nothing special.

:: The Winks – Action Figures ::

that was….trying too hard to be interesting & original and it failed in every category. strange noises will never replace peoples need for hooks and melody.

An Indiecater Christmas is a compilation put out by the good people over at MP3 Hugger /
Indiecater Records, it’s filled to the brim with festive cheer and a small bit of turkey filled, beer soaked despair and is available for the price of a selection box over here. GO!

Hey, what about……?

So yeah, maybe it seems a bit unfair that The Mae Shi won the highly coveted nick thinks… album of the year when Nick called it ‘overwrought’ and ‘juvenile’ and that they ‘should have worked on it a little longer’. Surely there should be some recognition for Nick’s favorite record of the year, yeah?

So from the man himself: ‘I haven’t heard anything better than that Spook Of The Thirteenth Lock album, it’s the best thing on the list by a long shot’

So now all that’s left to do is break the news to the band and lazily put the same set of questions Bill from the Mae Shi was asked to head Spook Allen Blighe:

spookpic1Hey Al, how does it feel to be nicks favorite album of the year?

We feel honoured, particularly looking a the other records reviewed over the course of the year. We’ve been fans of the blog for some time. A great idea for a blog and well executed.

Can you please sum up 2008 for The Spook in 5 words?

Practice, practice, practice, practice, rockin’!

What are your top five musical moments from the past year?

1/ My Bloody Valentine reformed, saw them in Manchester and it was amazing.
2/ Portishead – Third
3/ Zu live at ATP
4/ A great year for Irish albums – Givemanakick, Jape, The Jimmy Cake, Adebsisi Shank to name a few
5/ Playing a gig with Italian post rockers Dianne and the Shell, unhyped total deadliness!

And your favorite non musical moment from the last year?

Well, speaking personally, getting engaged in New York!

Congratulations! so what are the spooks plans for 2009?

We’ve been lucky enough to get offered a 5 date tour of Japan, so we’re off in February. Also we are working on new stuff at the moment so fingers crossed we’ll be doing some recording

Adrian Crowley – Long Distance Swimmer (Tin Angel 2007)


Nick: well, it’s pretty, sounds like it’s from another era.

the lyrics are a bit overly sentimental at times.

and in parts it becomes very sleepy, but still, it’s pretty.

ok the albums finished and our word count so far is 31, surely we can do better?

ok, I found it a bit too sweet and sugary, it’s nice but it’s nothing that makes you really sit up and listen to it, I can imagine him with a cardigan, smoking a pipe, thinking to himself ‘I really am a great poet’, but maybe that’s just me.

it’s ultimately pretty & pretty boring, it all comes from the same part of the forest.

as you can guess this isn’t my kind of music.

Oh well. In a lot of the feedback we get from fans of the site, people will normally let it be known that they agree with Nick on most points, so maybe now you’re thinking ‘Hmmm sounds like a pretty crappy album, I’ll give it a miss’. Well here’s some good news: Nick is massively wrong about this one! And what’s better is that if you head on over to Mr Jim Carroll’s On The Record blog, you can download the album for free till thursday!

nick thinks… Top 25 of 2008: 01!!! // The Mae Shi – Hlllyh (Team Shi / Moshi Moshi 2008)


Nick: I don’t like it ‘a lot’.

too much concept and not enough music, if that makes sense, it’s overwrought, taking itself too seriously, overly intense.

Helen: I liked the first track, it was very exciting, and one sounded like arcade fire, but there was also one where they sounded like demented fools.

Nick: musically, the melodies are very derivative, heard it all before in some form or another.

(track 8 – Kingdom Come – a remix/mashup of the entire record jammed right in the centre of the album)

this bit is quite nice, but in general I would be inclined to go up to them and say ‘c’mon guys, relax, just for a bit’

another thing is I can’t hear the lyrics, you said this was a concept album yeah?

kind of, loosely about the book of revelations I think.

well, that’s the one book in the bible that I actually know very well, I’ve illustrated it, but I don’t hear any of it in this, certainly not in the music.

how old are these guys?

around my age

funnily enough I would’ve thought of them as younger, it’s quite juvenile music.

also they can’t make up their mind what they’re up to, is this ‘revelations: the musical’ or a symphony based on revelations?

what do you mean by that? I’m not sure I understand.

there are two different attitudes straining to be heard here, some of it sounds like ‘Hair’ or another modern musical, a stage show or whatever, and other parts not at all, the unpleasant, well not unpleasant but aggressive, rocky stuff that doesn’t fit with the rest.

see something can’t be ‘a bit’ of a concept, like a girl can’t be ‘slightly pregnant’.

I think they should have worked on it a little longer as there are some great bits.

From October 07 till April 08 I was traveling around Asia and South & Central America with my girlfriend, a bag of clothes & books and a 15gig i-pod. by the 3rd month my thirst for new music was getting worse and worse, so the Paper Thin (RIP) Listening Party became my first stop shop for hearing something outside my music player and the popular music the various countries offered (Asia – bob marley, jack johnson, The Americas – reggaeton).

In Chile, some time in February ‘Hlllyh’ was the featured album, I was already excited to hear it as two new tracks been on the bands myspace page since mid 2007, and as the album played through crappy internet cafe headphones and I read the track by track notes by the band I came to realise that this was something beyond special. Positivity, wild, vibrant colours, group singing/screaming, breakneck speeds, mentalist drumming, sugar sweet pop, this was ticking all the boxes and then some.

For the rest of the week, I kept making lame excuses to get back on the internet, ‘we really should send some pic’s to our parents’ ‘it’s so-and-so’s birthday next week, I wanna mail them now before I forget’ yadda yadda yadda, just so I could hear it all over again.

The final 6 days of our trip was spent in The Mae Shi’s home state of California and luckily for us they were beginning a west coast tour with English scuzz-fukkers PRE, our second night in L.A we headed out to the Silverlake district to watch the two bands tear the roof off a crappy little shoebox called Spaceland. If I hadn’t copped it before, that night confirmed it for me, these guys were my new favorite band ever of all time. starting their set in the crowd, all singing as loud as possible, eyes shut tight, walking toward the stage where for the next 30 minutes they would jump, dance, fall, scream, cover the crowd in the Mae Sheet (RIP), and just generally fuck shit up while giving you one of the most energetic and memorable performances you’ll ever witness. I went to see them again in Oakland three days later.

Jesus. I’m writing way to much and I really shouldn’t because:
A – I’m not a writer
and B – I never know how to end these things.
Luckily I have a small interview with Bill Gray, Mae Shi bassist and professional beard wearer, below and that should wrap things up nicely. Thanks for reading.

Hey Bill, how does it feel to be the first ever winners (Ruan) /not winners (Nick) of the ‘the
nick thinks… best album of 2008’?

Ha ha, It feels awesome, it’s like feasting on the flesh of our young white masters bro.

Can you sum up the last year for The Mae Shi in 5 words?

Hilarious, revealing, stressless, broke, legalize.

What were your top five musical moments from the past year?

In no particular order:
Adam Payne from LA came out with a record called ‘Organ’ and on that organ was a song called “The One After Eyes” and it blows my mind, I should send it to you.
Abe Vigoda’s record “Skeleton” really made made me feel like everything’s going to be ok.
Seeing legendary Chicago hardcore band LOS CRUDOS (reunion 08′) at The Regent was nothing less then inspiring.
Gene Clark’s “Silverado ’75 Live & Unreleased” was finally released this year and the live version of “Set You Free This Time” gave me the chills for the last half of this year.
Playing with No Age and Health in Sweden was pretty rad..I think that’s five.

and your favorite non musical moment from the last year?

Discovering the saudero burrito at Tacozone on Alvarado.

so what’s next for The Mae Shi?

We’re making a new record. Touring more, I mean… you know, being a band. Jon’s making new shirts right now on the balcony of our boy palace. Also we’re trying to figure how the fuck bands tour Japan for cheap, if anyone out there knows, tell us.

nick thinks… Top 25 of 2008: 02 // Jay Reatard – Singles 06-07 (In The Red 2008)


Nick: I can’t say anything about this except that I really like it, it’s got everything; energy, lyrics, variety, yeah it’s good stuff.

his voice reminds me of someone, but I don’t know who.

well in October we reviewed the 6 singles he put out this year and you said pretty much the same thing.

so I’m not inconsistent.

nope, I think we can leave it at that.

Musically, Mr Reatard hasn’t put a foot wrong yet, everything I’ve heard from him this year has been solid gold, I even bought my first Beck record since Sea Change just to get a ‘lil-bit-o-Jay’. But there’s still one record better than this for 2008, and that’ll be revealed tomorrow, how exciting.