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Archive for April, 2012|Monthly archive page

If the London Mayoral Candidates Were Football Teams

In Opinion on April 20, 2012 at 1:23 PM

Boris Johnson (Conservative) – Manchester United

Precociously talented enough at what he does do to gain a grudging respect even from detractors. For the same reason, he manages to carry off his arrogance, often worn with the same simmering self-confidence as one of Old Trafford’s most finest sons, Mr Cantona. And with a charm typical of their respective countries of birth; Johnson’s ostensibly bumbling English gent to Cantona’s enigmatic, quintessentially Gallic taste for the arts and philosophy. Of course, the image is largely just clever PR. Just as behind United’s arrogance there is steel that, almost unerringly, leads to victory despite playing shit (usually courtesy of a fortuitous penalty or goal off someone’s arse), behind Johnson’s awkward, bumblingly comic demeanour there is a fierce intelligence and wit, which even opponents have a grudging respect for. (A personal favourite Borisism, if you will, is his response to criticism from Chris Huhne, who had recently been found to have transferred a driving penalty to his wife: “Well, to be fair to Chris, he does know how to get his points across…”. Miaow.)

The same sense of self-confidence influences their respective attitudes to much outside the city they represent, despite paradoxically having a relatively huge profile elsewhere. And income; Boris reportedly earns £250,000 a year for writing for the national paper The Daily Telegraph, and United earn millions from their fanbase in Asia, which is estimated to be near 100 million – a recent tour earned them an estimated £6 million. Of a huge source of United’s support, China, Boris Johnson said: “Virtually every single one of our international sports were invented or codified by the British. Other nations, the French, looked at a dining table and saw an opportunity to have dinner; we looked at it and saw an opportunity to play Wiff-waff. And I say to the Chinese, and to the world, that Ping-pong is coming home!”

Both are also not overly fond of Scousers. Manchester United fans sing (of Park Ji Sung and Liverpool fans): “Park, Park, wherever you may be, you eat dogs in your home country. But it could be worse – you could be Scouse, eating rats in your council house.” Boris has caused furore by suggesting the Hillsborough tragedy was largely due the irresponsible actions of drunken Liverpool fans, and the city wallowed in its “victim status”.

And, love them or loathe him, both now have iconic, if costly, stadiums in rough areas of their cities to their name, which should bring joy to many all over the world, if not to many of the grumbling, oppositional locals.

 

Ken Livingstone (Labour) – Liverpool FC

Both somewhat troubled at the moment, they relentlessly harp on about their glory years in the 80s – and to a lesser extent more recently – and how they can return to that hallowed place, like tired old romantics. The emotional yearning – vomit-inducing to many – can be seen in Livingstone’s (crocodile?) tears at the broadcast of his election manifesto video. For both, there are frequent calls of self-righteousness and sanctimony; most recently for Ken- whether his tears were really spontaneous and sincere given the news he had watched the film the night before.

There are also recent cries of shady and unethical organisational malpractice. Liverpool in the various financial proceedings between unpopular Americans George Gillett and Tom Hicks buying the club in 2007 and Fenway Sport Group’s 2010 takeover. And Ken Livingstone in the press’ hounding of him for including ‘actors reading from scripts’ in his election broadcast. Even if reports are often exaggerated by short-sighted press and punters – Livingstone’s ‘actors’ had been selected, paid (but only expenses) and provided with a script, but all were genuine Labour supporters. Ken has also been in hot water for the hypocrisy of denouncing the tax avoidance and evasion of “rich bastards”, yet reportedly funnelling £238,646 into a private firm to avoid the higher tax, thus saving up to £54,000 for being subject only to the 14.5% tax rate – lower than a City Hall cleaner.

And, just like Liverpool FC in their – ultimately unwise –  support of Luis Suarez amid allegations of racism, Ken has been dogged with accusations of racially divisive practice; notably, his combination of passionate championing of Islam yet snide comments about Jews. Though condemning of the authoritarian regime in Iran, he has accepted payments from the Iranian state, and also invited Yusuf-Qaradwi, Muslim hate-preacher banned from the USA who has supported suicide bombings and executions for homosexuals, to speak at City Hall.

Yet despite all the controversy both still retain a deep pride in their noble, socialist roots, or worthy wankerishness to the more cynical. Liverpool fans recently sent Alan Davies death threats for him having the temerity to suggest – sensitively – the club’s insistence on not playing on the Hillsborough anniversary was just a tad overbearing and demanding. And Ken has said this election is a “simple choice between good and evil […not] so clear since the great struggle between Churchill and Hitler”, and joked, “those who don’t vote for [him] will be weighed in the balance come Judgement Day. The Archangel Gabriel will say, ‘You didn’t vote for Ken Livingstone in 2012. Oh dear, burn for ever’.”

Add in the respective staunch devotion to red, and the resemblance is almost uncanny.

 

Brian Paddick (Lib Dem) – Arsenal

Makes positive moves, is liked by many, and has led the way in promoting a more progressive culture in his line of work (being a stereotypical Lib Dem and the UK’s first openly gay police officer), but seems not to quite have the cutting edge or political clout to mount a serious challenge, with a mere 8% of the estimated votes backing this up.

 

Siobhan Benita (Independent) – Swansea

A relative newcomer to the big league(s), Benita has a fresh, attractive approach to the game, but with a reticence and inability to spend big – and arguably play dirty, too – is unlikely to really challenge the big boys.

 

Carlos Cortiglia (BNP) – Millwall

Makes bold claims to be standing up for tradition and good, honest, hardworking Brits, but to most just hides a bunch of aggressive racists, under whatever new guise (this chap was born in Uruguay and is also of Spanish and Italian descent).

Joel Durston

The Blue Peter Badge Conspiracy

In Satire on April 16, 2012 at 1:17 PM

The protester who disrupted the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race is now planning an on-air hjacking of children’s TV show Blue Peter, TAY can exclusively reveal.

An anonymous source says Trenton Oldfield, 35, is planning to break into BBC Television Centre and interrupt the live broadcast of an episode in late May.

Once on air, he plans to give a speech about how Blue Peter is a “modern-day Marxist conspiracy from self-elected plutocrats  to distract children from the harsh realities of the evil regime they run with pretty images of sheep and cake bakes”.

He also plans to “illuminate” children into the “dark, sinister truth” about Blue Peter badges.

Ostensibly, the badges are little symbols of recognition for good deeds and/or appearing on the show. But, we can reveal, to Oldfield they are “pocket-sized emblems of servitude to the corrupt bourgeoisie, earned not through hard graft or talent, but happenstance and sycophancy; a cynical means of ingratiating innocent minds into a cruel system of conformity and subservience to the elite”.

This is done, our source adds, with free exclusive events – cynical yet simple Pavlovian psychology employed by all this government’s idols – Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini. The list goes on.

Our source recalled a conversation with Oldfield in which he said: “The government cynically target children, infecting their minds early, because they are more likely to – and indeed do – fall for this grand capitalist smokes-and-mirrors act masquerading as a TV show. Don’t be fooled, honourable comrades.”

In a mocking tone, he added: “Oooh, so little Jimmy’s written a letter – badly punctuated, I may add – saying how nice the museum you visited was, which happened to get read out on the show, and now he’s got a badge, so is part of the apparatchik of division.

“Are these people really too blind to see, for example, that this is a big cover up by Cameron and all his fat-cat cronies to hide the fact that they have severely reduced museum funding – as with arts in general – in the past year. Thus rendering art merely for those one whose silver spoons are so far in their mouths it is currently exiting their oesophagi, in a typically self-perpetuating cycle of trans-national-politico-socio-ultra elitism?!

“The ship symbolism also clearly harks back to Britain’s naval, imperialist past, which is still not that far away when you come to think of it, with the scandalous clinging on to the anachronistic military outpost the Falklands and the domestic slavery to which the elite condemn us.

“These kids need to put down the Frosties and take a good, hard bite of reality – cornflakes, the honest, proletarian man’s choice of cereal.”

When asked about the prospect of security coming in to close the show, he admitted that it is a risk but that this may only serve to better highlight his cause, as he gains sympathy for his blog when he is being pulled off by the “Stasi”.

The news comes amidst other security concerns for the Olympics. On 10 April, four were arrested for occupying the Olympic basketball centre and preventing a lorry accessing the site, and it is feared there may be similar protests at the Olympic Torch Relay.

Also, angered by the choice of sponsors such as BP, Rio Tinto and Dow Chemical, a coalition of protest groups are awarding the “Greenwash gold medal” to the Olympic sponsor that voters choose to be the most unethical.

In a final plea, Oldfield said: “I urge all you good children of Britain to renounce the despicable elitism of the Blue Peter badge in the name of democracy, and ensure your future in a free, just society, devoid of all those baddies you read about in your fairy tales…”

(Ed: I guess this society has all of us riding on the back of unicorns whilst simultaneously having a threesome with Megan Fox and Rihanna…)

(Ed: And didn’t this guy go to a private school in a wealthy Sydney suburb and study a PhD at a top (elite?!) English university, London School of Economics?!)

Joel Durston

Record Doctor II – The Punk and The Hipster

In Culture on April 13, 2012 at 4:49 PM

If you don’t know the deal with this, it’s basically a selection of housemates who all love music but have different tastes, so we pick stuff each other should be listening to and review it – and hopefully amuse and inform you good people in the meantime (you can take a little gander at the first one, here for an better explanation).

 

Gary’s choice: David Thomas Broughton – The Complete Guide to Insufficiency.

Gary’s choice next. A Complete Guide to Insufficiency it’s called. And already I want to hit someone. It’s by some arsehole called David Broughton. And he’s probably the person I will hit.

Never in my life have I heard such fucking drivel. Apart from anything in the chart nowadays but still, this is pig shit. Pig shit with a capital P. And a capital ‘ABSOLUTE WANK’.

Listening to this makes me think ‘what if?’ What if this was how everyone thought music should be? What if this guy came before the Beatles and so everyone started playing like this? I’d rather castrate myself with a blunt turtle than live in a world where everyone thought this stuff was good.

What grates me about this pile of wank is the fact that it’s ALL THE SAME. Literally, change the fucking record, Dave, you twat. No-one wants to hear a nine-minute ménage-a-trois of guitars, whingy vocals and churches all the time, you utter dick.

With Guillemots, I went into hearing the album dreading the worst and coming out of it relatively surprised. This, however, offered nothing surprising, other than the fact that no-one shot this guy during the recording.

Another thing that grates is that this liquid disc of shit was recorded in Leeds. LeedsWho the fuck records in Leeds?! No-one, that’s who, and in Broughton’s quest to sound cool, different, chilled out in a ‘save the trees bro’ kind of twatty hippy way, he’s ended up in Leeds wanking himself off with a guitar while talking about shitting on people. Why did anyone let this guy record anything?!?

As far as I’m concerned, this guy can be thrown down a bottomless pit with Lady Gaga, Chris Brown, Far East Movement, WilldotfuckingdotIshittingdotAm and the other lads from BEP (not Fergie – she’s fit), One Direction and Simon Cowell. And anyone else who is ruining music for me. To think that the Clash and this guy are both considered musicians makes me want to vomit up my own pelvis.

Fuck off Broughton, just fuck off now, you utter, utter, terrible, terrible dick. (Edd)

 

From Gary, another obscure artist I have never heard of before. First, an utterly bizarre techno/electronic/slap bass/free album and, now, an album of introspected folk recorded in a single take in a church in Leeds – A Complete Guide to Insufficiency by David James Broughton. Couldn’t really get any more different from The Clash on the ‘guitar music’ spectrum than this: The Clash play raucous ska/punk rock with a snarling singer to thousands of disaffected youths and Broughton is the most low-key, niche and obscure of singer-songwriters who presumably plays to Independent readers. At the very least, Record Doctor is succeeding in its principal aim of introducing each other to hitherto unheard music.

Broughton’s music is certainly not the type that will be troubling the Rihannas and Gagas of this world at the top of the charts any time soon. For this album contains 9 minute (purported) epics of solitary guitar and vocals, hazy scuzz reminiscent of war movies, and quite possibly the first time in musical history an artist’s love for a woman has been described with reference to capital punishment, peep shows and faecal discharge – the oddly catchy refrain of Execution: “I wouldn’t take her to an execution / I wouldn’t take her to a live sex show/ I wouldn’t piss or shit on her would I / because I love her so.”

Ambiguity starts the album off in typically subdued, mannered, melancholic mood, with ostensibly simple guitar playing and quiet reverb on the guitar. He has a voice that is at once rugged and choir-boy, and that really enunciates every word; a marmite voice. The real problem is, like much of the rest of the album, it eschews any real discernible melody in favour of, seemingly, coming off as a purist’s singer-songwriter choice. The lyrics are equally divisive; the epitome of the earnestness/pretension (delete as applicable) of the singer-songwriter: “…such selfishnesses trivialises any tenderness as the coffee commands the torture of my bowels, pronouncing every word with a rigid sensitivity.” They certainly don’t make for Cold Patrol-esque sing-alongs.

Ambiguity is proceeded by Execution, which, with the aforementioned lyrics, certainly offers none of the former quality in its blunt lyrics. Unmarked Grave is the one track that most resembles a ‘song’; a tender message, accompanied by winding guitar riff and even a hint of verse and chorus, from a fallen soldier to the lover waiting for his return who  he will never see again – ‘haunting’, if it takes your fancy.

Walking Over You is back to the abstruse, though – another sketch of song more than a fully formed one, with no discernible melody; just introspected, stripped-back guitar playing which many broadsheet readers will think is good by definition. Ever Rotating Sky hits upon one fairly listenable riff a minute in, layers over some lyrics and some chanting and, after going quiet for a minute, just plugs the same riff for nearly five, musically masturbatory minutes. If parents ever need a song to use as blackmail, to stifle the irksome hyperactivity of their kids in the back seat, this would be it. How’s that for a quote for the album cover, David?

Ever Rotating Sky best illustrates the biggest problem with this album. He is obviously a talented guy who strives for authenticity in a music industry dominated by the by-numbers instrumentation and cheap sentiment of lighters-up stadium ‘rock’, but he often aims for this too much. There’s certainly a heartfelt candour to his songs, but they are often just…well, dull. His bleak songwriting should also come with an overdose warning, for the constant droning can wear quickly. To varying extents, all five songs feel stretched out for twice as long as necessary; mere sketches of songs, as in Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk – a collection of Jeff Buckley’s demos, first workings and previous cast-offs that only saw the light of the day after his untimely passing. Especially on all-time classic, Grace, Buckley managed to marry incredible musicianship and lyrical depth to a pop sensibility (Shrek, anyone?) without losing its credibility, as have many similar artists such as Jose Gonzalez and, lately, Ben Howard.

In failing on this count, to use a clichéd music hack trick, David James Broughton has indeed given a complete guide to insufficiency. (Joel)

 

Edd’s choice: The Clash – London Calling.

So, perhaps unsurprisingly, Edd has given me another Clash album to review. This time, their third and probably most famous, London Calling, named after their infamous lament of police brutality and threat of nuclear disaster (“London is drowning, and I live by the river”), which was named number 15 in its list of 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (the album itself was voted number eight). It’s certainly a stirring opener; a stomping anthem to youthful disullionment.

The next song, Brand New Cadillac, returns the Londoners to familiar territory, treading as it does a similar furrow to their first two fairly down-the-line rock/punk albums. But after this, they open up and give many of the songs space to breathe, so often absent on previous albums. Jimmy Jazz has the relaxed feel of a song played to ease commuters into the daily grind duo of a poor, bedraggled guitarist and brass musician busking for money in the tube.

This is, though, one of the quieter moments on an album characterized by chirpy ska-rock which belies the anger in much of the songs. For example, Hateful is introduced by an upbeat harmonica and proceeds in a rambunctious kind of skiffle, even though it hides lyrics on lost friendship, nowhere-ness and memory loss. Spanish Bombs even hints at some real funk swing to their sound, evidenced later by dancefloor classic (ironically, given it is about war), Rock the Casbah.

Most songs, particularly Rudie Can’t Fail, Guns of Brixton and The Right Profile, take the Jamaican ‘Rocksteady’ sound and give it a punky 70’s London overhaul. The results are usually positive. Though some songs, especially towards the end of the album, such as I’m Not Down and Four Horsemen, have a tendency to wash over or blend into one when listened to as a whole. The vocals can also pall after a while. While the ragged, snarled, sometimes shouted vocals are clearly intentional, and in fitting with the band’s aesthetic, after a while they can grate. Listening to last two minutes of Revolution Rock was personally not too dissimilar an aural experience to that of pretending to ignore the bloke on the tube with a can of Special Brew in his hand on his tube at 5pm on a Monday, loudly proclaiming to all those who he thinks care his supposed misfortune in not being able to find a job or a woman. All in all, not unlike the downtrodden feel of Jimmy Jazz, but this time not in a good way.

Or maybe that is just my Mark Corrigan side coming out. As mentioned in the first Record Doctor when Edd plied us with The Clash’s self-titled debut album, one will always lose at least something in listening to an album out of the context culture it commented on and from which it spawned. With that in mind, though, it does frequently feel a little messy and uncohesive an album. At 19 tracks, it’s certainly a generous offering (and in today’s digital age where people can easily skip tracks, that’s practically more important). But one feels that it could be improved with some quality control, much like the Chili’s Stadium Arcadium which had a good dozen or more strong, if stupid, rock songs, but the quality of which was diluted by a fair few stinkers.

Still, it’s a good record, moving the band on significantly more than its predecessors. (Joel)

 

Joel’s choice: The Guillemots – Through The Windowpane.

This time Durst gave me an album called Through the Windowpane by Guillemots. Now, don’t be alarmed, but despite Guillemots being one of those bands that I will forever hate and wish a plague of cockney hamsters upon, I actually liked this album. Well, some of it anyway.

I approached it tentatively, much like the opening sustained strings on curtain raiser Little Bear. Immediately I got the impression that this was one of those albums I’d put on when I wanted to fall asleep. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as the smooth sounds of the opener made me feel like slipping into a nice comfortable dream away from the harshness, loneliness and stabbiness of London.

Despite Fyfe Dangerfield’s voice being one of those I’d usually hate, singing fucking awful lyrics with a kind of whiny howl, it fits perfectly over many of the songs on here, Sau Paulo being one of the prime examples. Despite the fact that song is 12 minutes long. You could kill someone in that amount of time.

The beat picks up in Made-up Lovesong #43 and it sounds very…well, very normal. It doesn’t stand out – there are no redeeming features that make me think “oh wow, I’ll stop wanking into a Clash CD sleeve and listen to this one again”. In all honesty it sounds like a Coldplay song at some points, and Fyfe doesn’t help when he starts howling/screaming at around the two minute mark.

One track that does stand out is We’re Here. The tempo’s good, the guitar echoes are good…in fact there’s not really anything I dislike about this track, other than Dangerfield’s whiny voice. Someone ram a few cigars down his throat and beef his vocals up a bit, then I’ll be able to listen to them without wincing like a crocodile named Tony Davies is nibbling my ear lobe in a sensual manner…

In fact We’re Here is a song that sums up the album well – there are quick and slow bits, with some brilliant orchestral arrangements and tidy guitar work…that’s a good word to describe the album in one word actually – tidy. Not good or bad or messy or thrashy or vomity or grumpy or bashful or any of the seven dwarves, but tidy. Clean cut. If it were a man he would have a short smart haircut, a jumper, smart trousers and sensible shoes. However, how many people would want to look like that? Dicks who would rather read big books than throw milk out of windows, that’s who. The bastards.

And that’s my problem with this album. Not the dicks who don’t like the occasional milk toss. The album’s purpose. The only good purpose it serves is to be a good soundtrack to sleep. And that’s no disrespect to Guillemots, they are very talented and Dangermouse is an excellent arranger and musician, but how many people would put this album on at a party, or on their work-out playlist, or as background music to sex or other recreational activities? Or at work, to get themselves motivated? Or on a long car journey? Not many I’d think…unless you wanted to fall asleep during any of those things. And if you want to fall asleep during sex then you’re mentally fucked. Seriously. Go see a doctor. Or a psychiatrist. Or a scientist. Yes, a scientist. One with funny hair like Einstein, because that means they’re a proper scientist. Not one of these phonies with sensible hair and glasses.

One final thing. If you do fall asleep listening to this album, why not wake yourself up with a Clash record? Just saying. Any of them will do, they’re all brilliant. And probably better than anything you’ve ever listened to. Now fuck off and listen to them. Otherwise I will be coming round yours with Tony Davies, and he’s in a sexually vivacious mood… (Edd)

Edd Paul, Gary Napier, Joel Durston

easyJet Becomes Even Easier

In Satire on April 5, 2012 at 3:04 AM

TAY can exclusively reveal that budget airline, easyJet, will trial flights which do not properly stop at airports, with surcharges for those wishing to disembark in the traditional manner.

Having been given the go-ahead by the British Aviation Authority (BAA), who are strapped for cash in the midst of the economic downturn and proposed tax increases, easyJet’s trial will take place on selected flights from Manchester Airport, following market research which executives claim support the plans.

The no-frills airline, already notorious for additional fares for exceeding stringent baggage weight limits, will introduce ‘hop on’ services which will slow down to a brisk walking pace at airports but not stop.

Chief executive Officer Carolyn McCall said: “after doing the market research, we have found that, in economically tough times, people are willing to sacrifice a little bit of comfort for affordable prices.

“Similar modes of boarding transport are used all across the third world with no problem so we see no reason not to offer something similar in aviation.

“We are also facing very tough times in the aviation industry, as proposed hikes to Air Passenger Duty mean we are face with even more financially straitened times.

“We are by no means compromising on safety, though.”

Chief executives say the plans will boost efficiency by up to 1000%, as planes will not have to stop for hours at an airport for “cumbersome, bureaucratic, inefficient red tape” such as health and safety checks and cleaning.

The route taken by the trial flights – one easyJet forsees as a trademark; “just like the Northern Line” – is Manchester Airport; to popular budget flight airport, Gatwick; to the ‘City of Love’, Paris; to Toulouse; to Barcelona; to Alicante and finally to Costa Del Sol hotspot, Malaga.

On ‘hop on’ services, there will be a designated ‘quick exit period’, signalled by alarm from the pilot. In this time, passengers departing the aircraft will be expected to jump off the plane into a ‘landing zone’ from a height of around 5 metres and a speed of around 8 miles per hour.

Mrs McCall says customers should not be worried, because even if the trial is successful customers may still opt for the “luxury” of planes that stop at airports (at a premium).

“We are leading an aviation revolution,” she added.

Cabin crews have undergone training on how to prepare passengers to safely depart using the barrel roll procedure.

One member of the cabin crew participating in the trials, Jason Jolly, said: “Weeellll, it makes a change from our usual routine of performing our silent Steps’ dance routine, which I adddooorreee B…T…W., over an anonymous autocue. But we have got SUCH a great team I think we can rock these new grooves!”

Passengers expecting to board will do so in the ‘quick entry period’ which will occur after leaving passengers have departed the plane.

These passengers will be instructed by a boarding manager to run in the warm up area parallel to the plane’s path, and then, at a certain point, run up the boarding ramp which trails from the back of the plane.

“So, as well as being affordable, customers will get the chance to feel like they are in an action movie!”

However, the Health and Safety Executive has expressed doubts at the safety of the planes. They, along with others, are investigating the legality of the venture which exonerates the airline from any damages if passengers are not actually in the plane (with the boarding ramp not constituting ‘the premises of the plane’).

This means easyJet are, currently at least, exempt from any liability arising from injuries suffered while landing in the boarding zone or attempting to board.

A Health and Safety Executive spokesman anonymously said: “What next?! People parachuting out of planes in the same region of the airport in the personal vain hope – and corporate disinterest – of landing at the airport?!”

EasyJet are also playing up the green credentials of the move, which will not waste as much fuel in having to get as many planes launched.

TAY can further reveal competing airline, Ryanair, are planning to fight back by offering ‘super-saver’ flights with standing-only and/or trainee pilots operating the planes.

Joel Durston

Assorted Music Reviews

In Culture on April 4, 2012 at 11:36 PM

Kasabian – Velociraptor.  4 stars

Kasabian seemed to have mellowed with the birth of Sergio ‘Serg’ Pizzorno’s first child if the evidence of this album (not their interview) is anything to go by. For Velociraptor is a far more mature, coherent and rounded album than the self-titled one the Leicester lads burst onto the scene with, aiming to give a kick up the backside to all the supposed whining indie kids dominating the hearts, if not charts, of British music fans. The two following efforts, Empire and West Rider Lunatic Asylum followed up with a few great songs, such as Empire and Underdog, but much filler and confused mess.

Velociraptor kicks off with their standard classic rock riffage of Let’s Roll Just Like We Used To and Days Are Forgotten, which should suit down to the ground Kasabian’s stereotypical fan-base of cocksure young lads. But the album should earn them a wider fan-base, because they have, possibly for the first time, backed up their charisma with consistently good tunes. The Psychadelica of La Fee Verte makes no bones about its inspiration with its Beatles nod (“I see Lucy in the Sky / Telling me I’m high ),but is executed with enough class to make it more than a pale imitation. Another highlight is the paranoid, electro-inflected I Hear Voices.

It’s an art to make an album so indebted the 60s and 70s sound important, but Kasabian have – finally – mastered it.

Pixie Lott – All about tonight. 4 stars.

An attractive young blonde singing over a dance beat about how she’s going to go to a club, drink, dance and possibly even bag a new fella doesn’t break any musical boundaries, much less solve the banking crisis or shed light on the Amanda Knox trial. But when the chorus is so infectiously huge as to be the work of some omnipotent deity of pop, this does not matter one jot.

Sak Noel – Loca People. 1 star.

Anyone that wants a reminder that summer is over, need do no more than listen to this faecal matter. It comes on like some awful hangover of the summer party season; intoxication seemingly the only excuse for enjoying a robotic feminine voice repeating ‘all day…and all night’ ad nauseum over a beat largely indistinguishable from a pre-programmed keyboard beat.

Niki and The Dove – The Drummer. 5 stars. 

The Drummer, in which Malin Dahlstrom sings of being a drum, is as brilliantly mad you would expect from that description and the fact that Niki and the Dove come from the spiritual home of eerie Electronica: Sweden. But it matches this craziness with a downright great pop tune. It wouldn’t come as a surprise if Niki and the Dove were, in fact, the result of a cynical, high-tech experiment taking Robyn, Lykke Li and The Knife and coming up with something even better than the sum of the parts. Even if true, I’d probably listen. Whatever they put in the water in Sweden, it needs to be bottled and sent over to the offices of Messrs Cowell…snabbt.

Lucy Rose – Scar. 4 stars.

Lucy Rose is basically a carbon copy of Lucy Marling (herself not unlike many others). Or Alas I Cannot Swim-era Laura Marling, anyway. Since, ol’ Laura has become more mature, wintry and, frankly, just a little trying to listen to. There are no such worries with Lucy Rose, though. While not exactly being revolutionary, this lovely lament to young love, lust and loss, sung with an incredible voice, means that doesn’t matter one jot. Or maybe that’s just this reviewer, who frankly is just a little besotted with Lucy (creepily so?), and wants to join her in, just like she does in the video, Scar, skimming stones, driving in an open-top vintage car, and climbing in a treehouse and wondering around non-descript parts of London looking all indie ‘n’ that.  And indulge in some of her home-made jam and tea she offers to fans at gigs. The soppy twat that he is.

Regina Spektor – All The Rowboats. 4 stars.

All self-respecting muso’s favourite kooky arty woman returns with All The Rowboats. From the intro, it sounds like her near three year sojourn has been spent partying in German electro club, but soon the familiar jaunty twinkle of Regina’s trademark piano kicks in and it’s all pleasingly arty, fan stuff – a salutary tale of the trials and tribulations of characters in the pictures of boats she sees. It also has a discernible tune and melody which is a nice – not necessarily typical – inclusion. Rowboats is just another example of Ms Spektor flitting between the real world and her hyperactive imagination – like her very own Inception. Here’s hoping no-one finds the tell to her totem.

Bon Iver – Latitude

Bon Iver has only just emerged – musically and emotionally – from the heartbreak-induced musical cocoon that saw him cooped up in a Wisconsin log cabin, mourning (or moaning) his loss of the titular Emma of the first album. While usually lovely, in large doses the relentless earnestness could grate. (Everyone’s broken up with someone, so the criticism that he should grow some fucking balls and get over himself is harsh but not totally unfair). His second album, though, has seen him open up, exploring North America’s forgotten backwaters and all attendant emotions with a broader sound, delivered with a bolstered backing troupe, encompassing horns, synths, organs and electric guitars.  Make sure to catch him playing these big shows quick so he doesn’t return, sullen and unloved, to more masturbatory musical carthasis in some sensitive loner’s paradise like Alaska or Iceland – which plays magnificent host to his Holocene video. For that would be a shame, as he’s a great musician and seems like a nice bloke too – if too nice.

Similarly pleasing to the ‘middle-class bedwetters’ (myself somewhat included) that seem to proliferate at the wimpy/uber-cool/pretentious Latitude should be demure indie songstress Laura Marling; Devonian folk-pop singer Ben Howard; bonkers yet lovely (and fit) shamanic mystic Bat For Lashes; and Elbow (though it’s acceptable in all quarters to like them because they’re down-to-earth Northern lads). All great, as with many others, but thankfully there’s loads of good comedy too to prick the balloon of (possible) pretentious, soul-searching wankishness. Can’t wait.

Joel Durston