Sunday, 25 October 2009


Adventureland is the third film by Greg Mottola, known best for 2007's Superbad. Don't let his previous film make you think that Adventureland will be all dick and fart jokes (as hilarious as they were), as it is a completely different film.
Ladies and gentlemen, once every couple of years, you'll see a film that moves you to the point that after viewing it you feel slightly weak, you feel changed. I think the last time I felt this way about a film was when I saw Say Anything two years ago. To be honest with you there is a comparison with that film in here too, it's more Say Anything or a less experimental, more straightforward Slacker than Superbad.
The film is set in 1987, in Pittsburgh. James (Jesse Eisenberg) is a post-grad student in journalism who, after finding his parents can't support him financially, decides that he is going to have to take a summer job at the theme park, Adventureland, which is where he meets Emily (Kristen Stewart).
Let me start by saying that any film that opens with The Replacements' Bastards of Young already has my vote. Not just that but also Unsatisfied, and songs by Husker Du and The Cure, at one point a very cute Kristen Stewart wears a Husker Du t-shirt. I know it's trite to love the 80s, and it's probably strange that I related to this film so much considering I was 1 in 1987, I'm from the highlands of Scotland and even I had been of age in 1987 it's pretty unlikely that I would have heard the Replacements due to a shitty import scene and lack of internet in those days but I've always felt an affinity with the alt-rock bands of the mid to late 80s. It may have been 2004 where I had my summer job between school and university (night shift in Tesco, which looks much less fun than working in Adventureland), but I still had all the experiences just like in this film: binge drinking, unrequited love, late nights, American alternative rock, reading poetry for pleasure and late night drives. This film is exactly like a Replacements record: all the grown-ups are boring, your job sucks and you just hang out.
Both leads Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart are fantastic, all I really knew Kristen Stewart from was Twilight (which I didn't enjoy) and Into The Wild (which was one of those films I talked about at the start of this piece), but she really played the role well. Bill Hader has a small part which adds some light relief. I know Adventureland was marketed as a comedy, but it's not exactly a comedy. There are little bits where you'll laugh, but it's pretty dark in all honesty. To me it just feels like a slacker film. I don't really want to mention too much about the plot as there's so much that you really have to see for yourself.
Another great thing about this film that I touched upon earlier is the fact that the 80s is the setting, but the film doesn't force that upon you, there's no day-glo leggings or Duran Duran, it relies more on what the 80s were really like: just like today but with less mobile phones and facebook and as many yuppies.
In short, go and see this film if you can. It's one of those films that you can watch again straight after you've seen it. The soundtrack is fantastic, and I forgot to mention that Yo La Tengo do the score. Next time I'll be reviewing Zombieland, which also stars Jesse Eisenberg so look forward to that in the coming days.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

The Republic of John Barrowman.

Switch on your television. Go on, do it. I don't mind waiting a minute. Now, who is the first face you see? Assuming you've not tuned into the news (he's not on that just yet), the chances are that the first face you will see if John Barrowman.
How do I describe John Barrowman? Well, as a Scottish person, you'll always be confronted by American people who are convinced they are Scottish. The problem with John Barrowman is that he actually is. He spent the first few years of his life here and as a result he loves showing off his Scottish accent with a wee self satisfied face like a dog that's just smelled his own shit.
My biggest problem with John Barrowman is that he is on everything, and I mean EVERYTHING. There was a Saturday night I watched tv when he was on three programmes on BBC One in a row. This is how it begins. I reckon within the next year we'll see John Barrowman on the News in military fatigues and a beret singing the recession, the War on Terror, and whatever other war we'll be in by then. I suppose it'll be Ruler Barrowman who decides who we're at war with as we'll no longer be called the United Kingdom, but The Republic of John Barrowman.
The only soldiers that will get recruited will be strong, handsome, young, and will have a good singing voice. The last part is essential as wars will no longer be fought on a battlefield, but on the stage. He'll draft in his brigade of strong, handsome, young men and they will sing against countries with of other singing soldier. Andrew Lloyd Webber would be the Minister of Defence, and the whole thing would be broadcast 24 hours a day for the rest of time on John Barrowman One (which is what BBC1 will have to be called) and the three remaining British citizens will watch because the rest of us will have killed ourselves long, long ago.

Saturday, 14 March 2009


Myself and my good friend the great Tom Stolson have a radio show, Left of the Dial. You can listen to the latest podcasts at and you can also get all the exciting information and banter there. This week's show will hopefully go out this Wednesday night/Thursday morning at 12Am GMT on Go listen, we play an awful lot of good punk rock music.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

call to arms

this is our punk rock. the future is unwritten. don't tell a soul. music is no fucking joke. don't believe anyone who says 'its only music'. fuck you. without music i would not be who i am today. that is a fact. it is not up for debate. i can guarantee that without 24 hour revenge therapy. without repeater. without damaged. without london calling i would not be the person that i am today and i most certainly wouldn't be the writer i am today. had i not spent my years dropping the needle then i wouldn't be screaming my own words in bedrooms, basements and more. music is important. not what's on the radio: that's business plans, marketing strategies and its funding wars worldwide. keep it. i'd rather my guitar dropped the bomb on all of you that have the money from 'music' drop real bombs and kill real people. our band could be your life. punk rock saved mine. hearing jawbreaker for the first time aged 15 changed everthing. something smashed through a door in my head jack nicolson in the shining style. he stuck his manic grinning face through the hole and nothing was the same. jawbreaker was year zero for me. the heavy metal cds went into a box into the attic as the room was filled with every type of punk rock i could find. mostly the gravelliest sounding ones or anything signed to dischord or sst. that stuff left a crater where music used to be. if you hear it abd would rather go back to james morrison, then simply you don't like music. and if you think i'm a snob for telling it like it is then FUCK YOU! this shit is for real. the underground will never disappear. we are the turntables spinning split 7"s in your bedroom. we are screaming in pub basements nationwide. we are the indie record stores, the photocopied fanzines, the distros. we are your punk rock. don't tell a soul.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

best of 08

In no real order, here's my best of last year:

Off With Their Heads - From The Bottom

Minneapolis' cheeriest treat us to their first full length and my god do they sound bummmmed. It's the perfect sound to early 20s alienation and depression, I like this album because I relate to it more than I should probably admit to. Quite a few of the songs on it are just new versions of ones from the 7"s (although not from the collection "All Things Towards Their End") and sadly the excellently titled "I hate my stupid ass and hope I get in a car wreck tonight" is now just called "Wrong", it sounds even better than it did on the split though.

The Gaslight Anthem - the '59 Sound

I was late to the Gaslight Anthem party, only hearing them in summer and only really getting into them in autumn, but by christ it was worth the perseverence. I've always found that my favourite records sound their best after the first time, normally around the fourth or fifth listen. Of course there has to be something that keeps you coming back, you know you like it but damn, if you just hear it one more time its going to blow your mind. I was this way with Leatherface's Mush and I was that way with Social Distortions self titled (two of my all time favourite records). Anyway, this record fucking rocks. At first I thought I preferred Sink or Swim but over the last couple of weeks I have decided that I was wrong.

Milloy - More Than a Machine

Ah, Milloy. Apparently during the fantastic Out of Spite festival in Leeds last year I drunkenly danced so enthusiastically to this band that onlookers thought I was their biggest fan. Well they always say that a drunk man's words are a sober man's thoughts and there's definitely some truth in there. This record is fantastic. Anyone who knows me knows how much I dig the gruff sound and this is exactly why. They sound like a young Leatherface (not that there's anything wrong with old Leatherface) which is probably why Frankie seems to mention them in every interview he ever does.

Dillinger Four - C I V I L W A R

If my glowing review didn't make you buy this, then get on it pronto. It's been about four months since I heard the advance leak and nothing can stop this record from being my favourite that D4 have ever released. I don't know what I can say about this that I haven't said already, just get out and fucking get it!

The Hold Steady - Stay Positive

Another band I go on and on about enough. Boys and Girls in America is one of my most favourite records. I don't like this quite as much but I am still completely in love with it. In terms of lyrics, very few people hold a candle to Craig Finn right now. This is the kind of record your parents wish they had when they were young.

And that's my 5 favourite of last year. This year I would really like some Thorns of Life music, honestly, an album, a 7", even some overpriced MP3s on Itunes. I will take anything!

Monday, 5 January 2009

Here we go.

She broke up with me about 3 months ago. I moved back here so I could be closer to her. I took a shitty job so that I could see her. And it blew up. She called it a personality clash. She moved on. Why am I still thinking about her? I'm not even sure anymore. Because I'm still here.
This is where it ends I guess. My plans are in motion to get the hell out of here. To get back into the city. To reboot my life. I haven't been happy for the last wee while. I'm in my own personal prison where everything reminds me of her. Today I started the car but tomorrow the wheels will start moving. I fucking loved that girl, but she's moved on so I guess I'll have to find another girl to fucking love. I don't even know if that's the point anymore. I just need to keep busy, I need to get out of here and I need to move the fuck on. I'm 22 years old, and when I first started writing this thing I promised that I won't get like this. That was a different girl, I really cared about this one, I still do, which makes it harder because these things are far easier if you hate the person, and I really don't. I'm just going to pick myself up and carry on again. End of the month I won't even be here anymore. Maybe you'll get a best of 2008 list before I go.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Dillinger Four - C I V I L W A R

Okay so here's the promised (albeit late) review of Dillinger Four's latest album:

Dillinger Four are a bit of an enigma in the punk scene, or they are if like me you live on the wrong side of the world or outwith Minnesota. They don't play too often, one of them is a doctor, one owns a bar. I don't know if they've ever come to play over here, I don't think they have.
C I V I L W A R is D4's fourth album, the last album they put out was 2002's Situation Comedy. Now I'm not going to lie to you, this review is biased right away, I like Dillinger Four. I've liked them since I first heard them in 2002. However, I just liked them, I didn't love them. They weren't one of my favourite bands. Then I heard C I V I L W A R.
To say that this is a good album is an understatement. To say its one of the best albums of the year is also an understatement. It's quite simply one of the best punk records I've ever heard.
Around the time I started listening to Dillinger Four in 2002, I was absolutely besotted with a Californian gruff punk band called Jawbreaker. I still am, At the ripe age of 22 I don't think I'm going to hear bands as good as Jawbreaker, The Clash and The Replacements ever again. All of those bands were gone by the time I was 10 years old. My dad always said I was born a few decades too late, I'm inclined to believe him at the best of times. Anyway, about Jawbreaker. In 1994 Jawbreaker released 24 Hour Revenge Therapy. It is, in my opinion the greatest record of all time. Everything about 24 Hour Revenge Therapy just oozes emotion, you can hear in Blake's voice that he means every single word. Every instrument sounds like its being beaten to hell, and not in an unlistenable way, Jawbreaker were an incredibly melodic band. A lot of the stuff on the following album could have made them really "successful" if they wanted.
Another favourite album of mine is Mush, its by another gruff punk band called Leatherface, who are from Sunderland. The first time I heard Mush was about four years ago when I played a few tracks of it and just knew if I listened to the whole thing I'd fall in love. So I did, and I did. The next year or two was a whirlwind of trying to get everybody I knew to hear this album. I had limited success, but I had some success. I turned a couple of friends onto Jawbreaker and Leatherface, and over time they grew to feel the same way about both bands music, although maybe without as much enthusiasm as myself.
So anyone reading this (anyone!?) is probably wondering why the hell I'm talking about Jawbreaker or Leatherface whilst reviewing the new D4 record. Here's why: C I V I L W A R is one of those records. Within 30 seconds of the first track, "A Jingle for The Product." I just knew. Anyone who has listened to Dillinger Four in the past knows they're really fast, heavy and their lyrics are often subtly political and really cutting. This album isn't too different lyrically, but its a little slower, its a little more melodic, and while I do love all the albums before this, none are quite as good as this. "Gainesville" is a strange one for D4, its like a love song for autumn. I can almost imagine it becoming a punk rock anthem. The chorus is ultra catchy, I was away for a few days after first hearing it and I couldn't get the damned chorus out of my head. I was desperate to get home and listen to it one more time.
I feel maybe I should talk about the album track by track but I don't want to spoil it. All you need to know is track for track this record is marvellous. It's one of the best punk rock record's of all time. It's out on the 10th October in the UK (I don't know when in the US, probably earlier) and if you consider yourself even a passing fan of punk rock, or rock music in general, I urge you to treat yourself and go out and get it.