Arctic Monkeys – "Suck It and See"

Released 6 June 2011

Time is relative, or so we’re told. Personally, time often appears like an elderly relative, one who never takes the hints and polite coughs while rooting around the cupboards for another slice of Mr Kipling.

For Sheffield’s Arctic Monkeys, time has merrily zipped along to such an extent they sound (and not to be cruel, but look) middle aged only 5 years into their steep career ascent. “Suck It and See”, studio album four, is as mature and measured as 2006 debut “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not” is furious and eccentric. More precise, and certainly more melodic than its immediate predecessor, the somewhat ill-advised “Humbug” from two years ago, “Suck It and See” captures the lads in fine musical and lyrical confidence.

Working with James Ford has brought a character to these songs that instantly recall his work with the Klaxons for their “Myths of the Near Future”. Very early on in “Brick by Brick” is an echo from “Gravity’s Rainbow” which underlines and emboldens an already nifty garage belter. The sweet “Piledriver Waltz” and wry “Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair” recall the most humble balladry from the debut, the blokes-do-cry songs richly filled with linguistic charms and surprises. “You look you’ve gone from breakfast in the Heartbreak Hotel / and sat at the back room by the pamphlets and the literature” from “Piledriver Waltz” holds its own against Morrissey at his most resigned. There are countless others – the title track especially ensures Alex Turner retains his reputation as one of the best current songwriters of his generation.

Bands settle at their most comfortable – Gomez, The Coral – and here the Arctic Monkeys have a lot more in common with these bands of depth, breadth and competence than the chancers who drew up to the stage in a battered old van with over-ripe choruses. Here’s to somebody working on a new album sleeve design sometime soon, mind…

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Thomas Tantrum – "Hot Hot Summer (Remixed)"

From Southampton, the hitherto chirpy and Britpop Thomas Tantrum have undergone a make-under (a phrase no doubt coined by geometrically-faced wardrobe botherer Gok Wan) with helf from former Chew Lips soundsmith Will Sanderson. Now using the label GWAIIU, the smart-by-halves Sanderson transfers the sunlight and shine in single “Hot Hot Summer” to somewhere in Sara Lund’s coldcase drawer.

Now distinctly more in the area of Shirley Manson with dubstep beats dragging themselves across the place, “Hot Hot Summer” emphasises the character of Thomas Tantrum which was always more Blonde Redhead than Blondie. Where the original brought optimism, so this brings uncertainty, but don’t suppose that is a synonym for “bad”. Quite the opposite; singer Megan Thomas sounds more like a siren than usual, taking the bloke of her choosing regardless of his opinions of the matter. This is a far cry from the usual relationship with magic and melody associated with them, though what spells are cast send fingers rapidly hurtling towards their website on the hunt for more. http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif


‘Hot Hot Summer’
is released through Stranger Records on June 5th and their sophomore album, ‘Mad By Moonlight’ which also features the single ‘Sleep’ is out on June 12th.

You can hear it for yourself here and download:

Burscough FC

The following is a complete copy and paste from a news report concerning Burscough FC, the club I support.

I could copy and paste the dozens of angry, confused and emotional messages and forum posts from across the League and Non-League communities, or the Burscough fans who have found themselves in the middle of one of the most rapidly developed rug-pull stories in a part of the football industry which has an unfair share of unfortunate events. I could let rip myself, because the walks to and from work have given ample opportunity to refine exactly what I feel about the people currently travelling down the road which would see the home of football in Burscough – over a century of the game in the middle of a small village in West Lancashire – vanish at the stroke of a pen. From many perspectives, that fate has already occured. Victoria Park is a no-go area, the club effectively wiped off the map without a chance for supporters to gather their thoughts.

Across the Internet, and beyond, the reaction from football fans up and down the Leagues has been edifying. To their credit, Skelmersdale are being as welcoming and supportive as they can, though the finer details of the ground share into which Burscough is being forced lies beyond the finanical reach of those desparately trying to save the club from extinction.

The Burscough supporters message board can be found here. As of last week, the club’s official website has been taken down for reasons unexplained.

The future of Burscough FC is in the balance after the Chairman and Secretary were sacked by post and the team was moved to nearby Skelmersdale in dramatic new developments in the long running ownership saga.

Discussions over the club’s future has led to the owners of the club sacking the Chairman and Secretary with immediate effect, as fans wait and see if they will even have a club to follow next season.

Chairman Frank Parr and long-running secretary Stan Petherbridge were sent letters on Saturday (13 May) informing them they are no longer needed at the club.

According to Keith Forshaw of the Burscough Supporter’s Club: “This morning Stan Petherbridge was informed by post that his position as club secretary has been terminated with immediate effect.
“Martin Gilchrist has appointed his son as the new secretary. Stan was informed to end any correspondence regarding the club and cease to use any official BFC letterheaded paper.”

Meanwhile, Chequer Properties, the owners of the club, will pursue a ground share with nearby Skelmersdale United, moving the club out of Burscough for the first time since its foundation in 1946.

Owners Paul and Martin Gilchrist have signed an agreement to share the ground and plan to sell Victoria Park. However, unlike when the company bought the club last year, they refused to promise to offer Burscough an alternative ground once they moved out.

A covenant on the ground states the current site can only be built on if there is another site for the team to play on in Burscough.

This means any move to Skelmersdale should be temporary, but it is believed Chequer Properties are searching for ways to bypass the covenant and permanently move Burscough out of the town.

However, things could get even worse for Burscough because of the added cost of renting Skelmersdale’s ground. With crowds of around 150 expected to drop dramatically once the club is no longer playing in Burscough, the club’s days seem numbered.

The club’s website has been removed, with only a sign stating it is ‘under construction’ in its place as fans await the owner’s future plans for the club.

Fans are already in discussions about the possibility of a new Burscough team owned by the fans after seeing their team, which won the FA Trophy as recently as 2005, ripped away from the village it serves.

A member of the Supporter’s Club says ‘wheels are in motion’ to create a new supporter-owned club, and talks have begun with Supporters Direct, an organisation which advises on setting up and running football trusts.

Property developers Chequer bought the club last year when it was struggling financially. Chequer had already bought the rights to build on Victoria Park and completed a takeover of the club when previous owner Chris Lloyd.

Chequer Properties originally promised no intervention in the playing side of the club, but have already sacked manager Andy Gray in February to the dismay of the supporters.

Chris Stammers, Gray’s replacement, was forced to deal with player sales as the club struggled in the Evo Stik Premier and were relegated to the First Division this season.

Tall Ships – "Hit the Floor"


Tall Ships’ new single, out in June on Big Scary Monsters/Blood and Biscuits.

Starting their UK tour tomorrow (supporting Three Trapped Tigers), it’s evident Tall Ships have caught the wind (sorry), are sailing in the right direction (really sorry) and will carry more passengers with them (just…..sorry) with the enticing new sound of single “Hit the Floor”. (at least it’s not “Hit the Deck”)

This new one has an emphatic speed, divided into three distinct elements, each more like the sound of passing indie clubs in a speeding car than the last. There’s 90 seconds of throwaway indie funk with tumble-down drums, followed by an incessant dancefloor magnet groove, concluding with a stubbornly effective cut-off chorus. It’s polished as a pensioner’s mantelpiece but yet retains joyous and boundless, little wonder the usual suspects are lining up to assure you all that they recommended Tall Ships to you first.

Clearly this blog is a little late to the party, though no less certain that there’ll be a welcoming party at the dockside far greater in number than when they left….(Truly, truly sorry…)

Listen to new single “Hit The Floor” at Soundcloud

Tall Ships are on Facebook. Be sure to like them….

Vote 2011 – Every Loser Wins

Football managers are experts at finding diamonds in the rough (even Arsene Wenger, whose track record at actually witnessing contentious episodes on the pitch is quite the stuff of legend). Mssrs Molyles, Grant and the rest are wheeled out for post-game interviews to spout, by and large, the same things. “Yeah, it was two points dropped away from home, but you know, the lads really shone today and to come away with a point at this end of the season, you know, yeah, it’s really changed the way we look at the remaining games.”

This week I have been reminded that politicians can find positives in every situation with just as much ease and attraction to the tenuous. With so many elections on the same day – a veritable orgy of democracy – it’s little wonder how our elected elders have analyses the same source material and found completely different conclusions. Just off-side? Questionable linesman decisions? It’s all same-difference….

I will begin with Labour, whose leader Ed Miliband has been doing the media rounds talking much whilst saying little. “There are alternatives to everything this Government is doing” he says (well, sorry, “this Conservative-led government”). Sadly, Ickle Miliband is yet to outline exactly what those alternatives are. His Party were signed up to make public spending cuts in the same mould of the Coalition, so the “unspoken alternatives” he is failing to outline discredit his argument.

Labour did very well in two parts of the country – across Northern England they battered the Liberal Democrats seven shades of Sunday. Many great Northern towns are now without any LibDem representation at local level, or at the very least have seen their numbers slashed to bare minimum. Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield, Newcastle, Hartlepool, Hull, Leeds, Bolton – each city witnessed colossal drops in LibDem support. Here in Preston, our vote share collapsed in keeping with many others across the region, although we held onto one of our historically safest areas and increased our share of the vote in the target ward of Tulketh. As with all these towns and cities, we will be focusing on the Labour Party’s rule to ensure they keep to the budgetary constraints accepted by the Council before the election was called.

In Scotland, unlike Wales, the Labour Party suffered terribly. The SNP ripped apart the totems of Labour support – the Central Belt has almost no Labour MSPs at constituency level. Glasgow is over-half Nationalist, even Gordon Brown’s Kirkcaldy ditched Labour for the SNP. Fingers have pointed at Iain Gray, whose leadership did not inspire activists never mind voters, though the SNP’s success is clearly one of coherent policies. Labour went for negativity and attack, both of which failed to chime with voters who wanted to hear positivity and leadership.

Supporters of y Blaid may well be looking askance at their nationalist cousins. Labour’s working majority at Cardiff Bay clearly shows the difference with their leadership and campaign messages in the two nations. Could it be that Plaid Cymru stepping away from independence talk has made their brand weak and unattractive? What does falling to third do for Plaid’s future?

And now the Liberal Democrats. Well….

….Okay, so in Scotland we did appallingly badly. Wiped off the mainland in constituency terms we are now the Northern Isles Party in that regard, saved from total embarrassment by the vagaries of the d’Hondt voting system and its top-up seats. Clearly Scotland voted for its national parliament with one eye on Westminster politics; Scottish people have great difficulty in accepting any political alliance with the Conservatives can be sold for the national interest. That great guaranteed hotbed of liberal support – the Highlands – tossed us away like a caber. Just like the Labour Party in the South, so we have been attacked by our core supporters for not offering a credible or distinctive policy package and until we can speak with our own voice again Scotland will not e forgiving to whoever leads the Scottish Liberal Democrats in the future.

In England’s local elections, the Liberal Democrats suffered terribly in the North of England. The figures are stunning and sobering. Liverpool slapped us at every opportunity, Manchester ditched us entirely, and Sheffield stuck two fingers up at Clegg in his beloved backyard. Newcastle and Hull got rid of LibDems only a year after giving them control of their respective councils. Handfuls of LibDem councillors across Cumbria fell without so much as a handshake.

The lesson was very different in the South. We still run Eastbourne Council having lost 5 seats straight to the Conservatives, an increase of 8 Conservative Councillors didn’t change our control of South Somerset, and Portsmouth is still under our control (with no increase in Labour representation at all).

We have to learn from this. The messages we gave to voters over the period long before last year;s general election still hold true. We have thousands of dedicated councillors who fulfill their role as street champions and local representatives far better than their Labour equivalents. There is no sense of entitlement to any of our councillors and their wards. Clearly the Coalition is having a damaging effect on our representation, but that is not a reason to ditch it all in and start again.

The Conservatives won seats and councils last week, one of the first times that a ruling party has made advances after in their first year. They consolidated their southern support whilst making very limited increases from the midlands up (indeed the story in Birmingham is one of almost complete Tory collapse). Tories are still almost completely absent in the industrial towns across Lancashire, Manchester and Yorkshire. There may be blue bits in Sefton, but there most certainly are not in Liverpool, St Helens or Knowsley. In Wigan, the leader of the Tory group lost his seat in Orrell. In Chorley, the Tories lost control of the Council.

The winners/losers argument for the post-match interview is, therefore, whatever you want it to be. Labour cannot claim to have “won” the election period, having been demolished in Scotland and only reclaiming old ground in the North. Neither can the LibDems even suggest things are looking alright, for it clearly isn’t. The Tories need to examine how they break out of their comfort zones, because it still has yet to happen.

Two final points – the BNP were wiped out of Stoke Council, and seem to have only one defending councillor re-elected across the country. Their slow and satisfying collapse continues and long may that continue.

And I cannot leave without mentioning the AV Referendum. We lost. It’s terrible that the No brigade managed to drag victory from the ditches of its awful campaign, not least because this slams shut on meaningful electoral and constitutional reform for a generation. There is no two ways about this – saying No to AV has killed off any chance for a fairer, more representative voting system in the UK and that is a scandal for a so-called developed Western democracy. Labour had 13 years in charge to make a go of this, they failed, and this week their lack of action has come home to roost.

Some election periods are dull. Not this one. Much change, not least in Scotland, with constitutional and representative hoo-ha to follow. For those who found the AV campaign “a bit much”, incidentally, you wait until the boundary changes start…

From 140 characters to infinity…

21 years ago, the first Gulf War changed television and radio reporting for ever. CNN – not exactly storming ahead in its field – grew in stature and reputation with its one groundbreaking concept. Suddenly their raison d’etre made sense. Newspapers had the content, but did they have the reaction speeds, depth of commentary and instant replay? CNN defined and justified television news, something we now take for granted. Twenty-one years is a lifetime in broadcasting, and from CNN all those years ago, May 2011 has witnessed the next great revolution in news reporting. It has come not from the “mainstream” media (of which, arguably, CNN is now firmly part), or even the “first generation” Internet names. For this month saw Twitter justify its reputation and support amongst thousands of loyal users, in addition to getting grudging respect from the news organisations it has ultimately usurped.

This tweet is the iconic symbol of Twitter’s “maturity moment”. The one man – Sohaib Athar – inadvertently became the poster boy for all that the live-tweeting, micro-blogging site could offer the world. Real time, uncensored, un-monitored reporting of events, often innocent and natural, more often than not trivial, all of which could be the snowballs to roll down and create headlines. Twitter was always a curiosity, and in many ways it has become much more one now, though it has also given the Internet the shine of respectability it needed in the field of news. Just as CNN did in the 90s, now Twitter has shown the credible side of its quirky selling point.

Twitter began to buzz with news that President Obama would be making a very serious announcement at 2145 Eastern Time (about 0230/0300 GMT). Thirty minutes later, Keith Urbahn, the former chief of staff for Bush’s Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, tweeted his exclusive .

“So I’m told by a reputable person they have killed Osama Bin Laden. Hot damn.”

Between 2145 and 2215, Twitter was alive with rumours, jokes, repeated jokes, claims, and counter-claims. The Twitter organisation itself reported that by the time President Obama was confirming the news – over an hour and twenty minutes later – 6,000 messages a second were being written with his name. That totals countless millions sent in the period from the initial rumour to the rolling MSM analysis.

Twitter has been the place to go for so-called “live tweeting” or “dual screening” for some time now. In the UK, episodes of The Apprentice, Match of the Day, or even Great British Menu, can be enjoyed by watching thousands of viewers giving thumbs up or down whilst the show is on air. Writer Mark Gatiss has said watching programmes he has written (such as Doctor Who) with Twitter on his phone “would drive him mad”. Soon-enough feedback (the notices and reviews in next day’s papers) has now become
instant, running parallel to the programme itself. The “Osama day” on Twitter went one step further – effectively running ahead of the news agenda and laughing when traditional television journalists jogged towards them sweating and panting.

The Mumbai bombings was the first real event which suggested Twitter’s potential. CNN, ironically enough, commented on how the programme was “ahead” of them, with the news-gatherer having to be careful with every detail and source it received. With little filtering (and no checking for repeated jokes), Twitter can forge ahead where broadcasters rarely can tread. Whilst this is an issue, it’s also a bonus. No filtering, no censuring – the most gruesome of videos and the most belly-hurting jokes, all streaming down the news-feed in a collection of views, news and opinions. During the anti-cuts marches in London, protesters used Twitter and Suki to plan sites to gather and police hotspots to avoid. Whilst watching the UK’s first ever leaders debates, the “Iagreewithnick” meme blossomed into a T-shirt slogan and backhanded compliment.

Internet historians like to mark exactly when new phenomena or language became popular. Who wanted their kittens to speak in Creole first? When did someone first notice the bloke who couldn’t carry all his limes? When did emos start taking photographs at funny angles, and where did they go before tumblr? 2 May 2011 is the cyber-historians newest milestone. It’s the day newsgathering and reporting became something new – deeper whilst still giddy, stronger though unpredictable. Years after having its existence questioned by critics and sceptics, the newest darling of the 2.0 generation has grown into a very lucrative (and beautiful) swan. From the alternative to status updates, to the latest version of ticker tape…And I still find the time to update people on how crowded the 1647 Leyland service back home is every workday.