Electricity & Lust

Links of the Week

Posted in Links of the Week by Sam Unsted on June 19, 2011
  • This AV Club article questioning whether cable TV is still delivering higher quality product than network TV in the US is one I disagree with nearly whole-heartedly, but it does at least make some interesting points about the slight increase in the number of really good network shows at the moment (The Good Wife, Community, Parks and Recreation). The point it appears to side-step though is that there are so, so, sooooo many terrible shows on network TV and the overall hit-rate (in quality terms at least) for the cable shows is way better. Also, the central argument surrounding the quality of network comedy is way off. There are a pile of really good comedies on network TV right now, but the absolute best at the minute, FX’s Louie, is a cable show. Anyway, enough debating. Read for yourself and comment away.
  • Staff at The New York Times Magazine have contributed their own selection of their favourite non-fiction books after The Guardian did the same last week. Probably a little too much to read now but I’m trucking on regardless.
  • I just finished Michael Lewis’ The Big Short and I’m planning on indulging in his Moneyball pretty soon. The trailer for Steven Soderbergh’s adaptation of the latter book, about the sabermetric approach to creating a successful baseball team used by the Oakland As. The film looks decent enough, with a strong cast and a great director behind it, though the screenplay has had runs over from Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian, which is never a great sign. I’m interested though.
  • The Atlantic has a copy of the handwritten draft of the song ‘Dance Music’ by The Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle. He then goes on to discuss his songwriting process, which proves particularly interesting given that song comes from their absolute best record, The Sunset Tree.
  • The longlist for the Polaris Music Prize in Canada has also been released. I’m pulling for Tim Hecker and his stunning Ravedeath, 1972, the best album of an already stellar career.
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Mountain Goats Obsessions

Posted in Music by Sam Unsted on October 14, 2008

Just a quick post but I thought I should share the ridiculous infatuation I have nurtured into bloom for ‘Sax Rohmer #1’ by Mountain Goats from their Heretic Pride record. Darnielle basically sings about some sort of war/peace gathering taking place at a harbour somewhere but, as with many Mountain Goats songs, the thing I’ve latched on to is the chorus. I honestly think John Darnielle must be among the best chorus writers in the business. There are three songs on their masterpiece, The Sunset Tree, which, despite the tone of the record being resolutely depressing, are rousing and beautiful and brilliant in ways only truly great songwriters can achieve. The best of the lot, ‘This Year’, is ostensibly about Darnielle stealing his father’s car and joyriding for a day, knowing it will mean hell to pay when he returns. Despite that underlying sadness, Darnielle has a gift for inspiring adrenaline-rush moments of romanticism meaning you are taken on the car ride, experiencing all the free abandon Darnielle feels in his moment of freedom.

‘Sax Rohmer #1’ is a prime example of chorus-writing skill, a surging, beating-heart chant that I find completely thrilling. It’s going to be among my favourite tracks of the year.

Here’s the video. Enjoy and let the obsession take over.

Albums Since My Birth

Posted in Music by Sam Unsted on July 12, 2008

I’m so sorry not have have posted recently but you can check out a more regularly update version of the site on my Tumblr page. Bookmark that for more recommended links that I’ll be providing here.

Going round at the moment is a trend of listing the favourite albums since your year of birth and I thought I would indulge myself in that one. I’m going to do a movie one too so look out for that.

So, from my birth to now, my favourite records of every completed year thus far. An additional comment: I realise you are only supposed to choose one per year but damn, this was a little too hard for that. As far as my research goes, all are also based on UK release dates.

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Carry on Wayward Link

Posted in Links by Sam Unsted on May 27, 2008

I’m digging this site. Digestible film reviews that don’t skimp on detail. Good stuff.

The new Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy record is getting some love.

So is the new Spiritualized.

The new Hold Steady single will come with tattoos.

Sigur Ros have nude folk on their new sleeve cover and will sing a song in English.

Sidney Pollack died today. Say what you like about Tootsie (I still enjoy it), Three Days of the Condor is a classic and Yakuza is something of a gem.

Here’s one of many, many tributes online.

Boyzone trying to be sexy? No thanks.

This American Life, and other shows from the Showtime stable, are now online.

HBO is developing a US version of Bad Girls.

Who are the least intimidating gangs in movie history?

Submit your questions for Yuko Yamaguchi, designer of Hello Kitty.

The Russians aren’t too happy about Indy’s new adventure.

Tarantino is finally going to make Inglorious Bastards.

Ron Perlman has joined the cast of FX’s Sons of Anarchy.

Woolworths has scrapped CD singles sales.

Mountain Goats did a session for Daytrotter.

PopMatters interviews Times New Viking.

Diggin’

Posted in diggin, Sam by Sam Unsted on March 15, 2008
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Music: I’ve been taking in a few new records this week, notably the glammed-up wonders of Supergrass on Diamond Hoo Ha. Nick Cave’s Dig Lazurus Dig is pretty groovy, more Doors-y than I’d normally expect but still head-and-shoulders above most of the competition. The Breeders’ Mountain Battles is more of a mood piece but equally great in its own way. My favourite of the week was Mountain Goats’ Heretic Pride which follows the trajectory of Get Lonely in becoming less frenetic on the acoustic guitar and fuller in the songcraft.

Film/TV: I haven’t really seen anything this week barring a review screening of Horton Hears a Who which I actually liked quite a bit. It was defiantly silly and very odd in places. The main take-in for me this week was The Wire’s final two episodes which lived up to the tone of the whole run. It is officially the Greatest Television Show of All Time. The fifth was the weakest season so far but it’s still so far ahead of anything else that it really doesn’t matter. More on that soon.

Books/Comics: The Yiddish Policeman’s Union was magnificent. Michael Chabon’s entire body of work is now winging its way to me because the guy’s writing is just incredible. I cannot wait for the Coens’ adaptation.

Other: It’s been a podcast bonanza this week after I purchased a reconditioned iPod from Apple. My favourite thus far is KCRW’s Left, Right and Center on which Ariana Huffington proves you can talk like Audrey Hepburn and still be a storming authority on modern politics. Real Time with Bill Maher is no less of a left-wing polemic in audio form and I really loved the two Silence in C Minor podcasts. You can download those here. Also recommended is the Slate Political Gabfest and New Yorker: Out Loud.

Diggin’

Posted in diggin, Sam by Sam Unsted on March 8, 2008
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Music: It’s been a long and arduous task getting through the 700+ songs included in the SXSW torrent but I’m getting there. AA Bondy is a favourite at the moment and I also enjoyed Pigeon John. Alongside these, I’m really enjoying a retreat to 2004 with the Futureheads’ great debut album and the new tracks released by The Breeders and the entire new albums by Drive-By Truckers, Mountain Goats and the umimpeachable Nick Cave.

Film: Busy on this front, trying mainly to catch up on notable films I missed last year. I really enjoyed Into The Wild despite any rose-tintedness on show by Sean Penn. I liked In the Valley of Elah much more than I did the pompous and weak Crash. I also utterly adored A Mighty Heart in which Angelina Jolie gives a shockingly brilliant performance. The moment when she breaks down after she finds out her husband’s fate cuts through any emotional defence you could ever put up.

TV: The Wire. Oh, The Wire. The greatest show ever to grace television comes to an end this week and all of you who haven’t watched yet, shame on you. Shame. On. You. I also took in the first ever episode of Deadwood again and was reminded of its brilliance. Lost is still great and the Desmond episode ruled. Mostly it’s been America’s Next Top Model though since cycle 10 started. If The Wire is the greatest show of all time, ANTM is the greatest reality show.

Books/Comics: I liked Then We Came to an End by Joshua Ferris but found is somewhat disappointing. I’ve just started Michael Chabon’s Yiddish Policeman’s Union and I’m absolutely loving it so far. I’ve not really taken in too many comics except for Achewood which as always, I adore.

Other: Today we fried portobello mushrooms in a garlic butter sauce topped with pepper, salt and chilli garnished cheese. This was accompanied by peppadew peppers stuffed with feta cheese. Divine!

Diggin’

Posted in diggin, Sam by Sam Unsted on February 23, 2008
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Music: Well, I’ve not got my iPod back although upgrading is in the works when money stops being a barrier, so music has been back in this week. I’m actually really loving Jukebox by Cat Power after being a little unsure on the first couple of goes round. ‘Silver Stallion’ is magnifique. I’m really enjoying ‘Falling Slowly’ from Once in the run up to the Oscars and supremely hope it can take the gong. Lil Wayne is great, Atlas Sound too, and new Mountain Goats songs are living up to previous form. John Darnielle must be closing in on finally receiving the acclaim he deserves.

Film: I watched Margot at the Wedding this week and, to be honest, didn’t really enjoy it too much. It had moments of barbed cynicism to enjoy, but mostly everyone was too unlikable to identify or empathise with and you were left with no one to cling to.

TV: Battlestar remains great and heating up towards the climax of its second season. We’ve been re-living Indecision 2004 from The Daily Show with its dream team; Stewart, Corddry, Bee, Carell, Helms and Colbert. Also America’s Next Top Model, the greatest reality TV show of all time, is back! Partnering it on our UK watching night is My Dad is Better than your Dad, the most ridiculous prime-time thing I’ve seen for a good long time. American children are unstoppably either horrific or lovely. No middle-ground.

Books/Comics: I finished The Looming Tower this week which was all kinds of fascinating in recollecting the formation of Al Qaeda and the lead-up to 9/11. I’ve also recently received the ninth volume of Powers which was a nightmare to get hold of in this country. Bendis is a fine comic-book dialoguist but Powers’ strenght is in the storytelling. I’ve also been loving Achewood even more as I become accustomed to the characters.

Other stuff: It’s been a podcast week and my favourites right now are The Economist’s socio-political discussion, Slate’s election coverage, New Yorker fiction and Pop Candy comic book writer interviews. The other thing is cookies from Waitrose, their choc-chip biccys are just astonishingly lovely, melt-in-your-mouth kind of lovely.

In Da Link

Posted in Links, Sam by Sam Unsted on February 15, 2008
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The AV Club has a beginner’s guide to The Kinks.

The future is not looking bright for HD-DVD.

Somewhat genius-like singer-songwriter Bon Iver donates a guest list of tunes he likes to Pitchfork.

Obama may have just won some supremely influential support.

Wanna speak Obama. Check this.

The Guardian has an interview with Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle.

A cleaned-up version of Dexter is coming to CBS.

Thank you so much to Pop Candy for this link. An excerpt from the novelisation of Roadhouse, the Patrick Swayze plays a zen-kung fu bouncer classic.

Zack Snyder is answering questions about Watchmen!

Newsweek has a fascinating article about poets and artists in Burma.

Sasha Frere Jones does not like the new remixes of Radiohead.

USA Today has the lowdown on when shows are expected back following the resolution of the strike.

The IHT reviews a new book claiming 1967 to be the most pivotal of filmic years.

American artist Phil Hanson has created some works inspired very directly by Amy Winehouse.

PopMatters thoroughly enjoyed the new book about The Replacements.

One of Betty’s birthday prezzies is we are going to see this young Gallic femme below.

Stuck Inside a Mobile With the Memphis Links Again

Posted in Beth, Links, Sam by Sam Unsted on November 21, 2007

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Has fame gone to the head of MoveOn.org? Now it’s attacking Facebook.

Jennie Garth goes so Mel B is in the final of Dancing With The Stars.

Here’s the first image of the Spice Girls’ Cavalli-designed tour outfits!

The AV Club talks to Jennifer Jason Leigh and Crispin Glover.

Want to know what Oprah’s favourite things this year have been? Take a look… 

PopMatters has a review of a biography of the Chelsea Hotel (a Hotelography?)

Staff at Stylus suggest the movies of the noughties thus far.

The utterly magnificent and wonderful Mountain Goats have announced plans for their new record.

Another review of I’m Not There, this time from Slate.

Artrocker interviews the dirty/sexy/cool Duke Spirit.

Remember Dieter Brummer; Shane in Home & Away… who went out with Angel… who was played by Hollywood actress Melissa George? NO? Hmm. Anyway, he now works as a window cleaner. And has been arrested for drink-driving.

The Guardian offers an opinion on the Amazon Kindle e-book device.

The Office actress Angela Kinsey is expecting a baby! Lets hope this means a mini-Dwight onscreen…

How cute is Rachel Bilson? Very. 

And, to finish in true football hooligan stylee, – COME ON ENG-ER-LAND!