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In light of England’s exit from the World Cup, I thought I’d take on the mantle of why. Bare in mind we’re a mixed bunch at Blue Air when it comes to who we support: I was rooting for South Africa and anyone playing against France. I’m about advancement and fairness really, in this blind attempt to seem impartial after watching the pub I work in go mental at yet another display of refereeing ineptitude, passionless English football and ruthless German efficiency.

So, England went out. It would be incredibly easy to blame the main turning point: Frank Lampard’s blatantly disallowed goal. Let’s be honest here: the linesman couldn’t be expected to keep up with a shot like Lampard’s, which can reach 70mph-odd. He could have tried, though, he wasn’t even in line with the last defender to judge a potential offside position (as he showed when he wrongly ruled Defoe to be offside). It could have turned the game, but Germany’s counter-attack play was far superior, they looked more of an attacking threat, and they weren’t reliant on one frontman. I’ll come to that in a minute, but the blame here should be with FIFA. Their point blank refusal to entertain the notion of ANY kind of technology when every other major sport bar baseball uses it is mind-boggling. When replays in HD now show how much players have their eyes closed when they head it, and seconds after it happens, it’s ignorant to believe that looking at a replay would ruin the ebb and flow of the game.

So, Sepp Blatter, you’re ruining the game, sort it out, or at least do us a favour and have a stroke or something and let me, Adam and Lee have a go.

What about England themselves? Their system has remained the same no matter who they play, even when it wasn’t working. I don’t mean formation: I mean strategy. Knock it about until the opposition get lazy and exploit it was about all I could figure out. Oh, and the good old tactic of “GIVE IT TO FUCKIN’ ROONEY!!!” The fact is tactically England were predictable and outclassed. The friendly with Mexico showed how vulnerable England were to the counter attack, and it never seemed to have been addressed.

As for Rooney…I know he’s played millions of games this year at top level, but he didn’t win anything. So you’d think a player praised for his passion would show some. But he didn’t care, there was no movement like we saw at Man United this year and he couldn’t even link up with world class midfielders like Gerrard and Lampard. In short, he was shit all tournament and should have been substituted.

Speaking of world class midfielders, Joe Cole looked anonymous whenever he came on, in spite of calls for him to play. Admittedly, Lennon, Wright-Phillips and Milner were equally useless. But the persistence with these players when Cole is a better player didn’t make sense.

As for Emile Bastard Heskey…I’m biased, because I don’t think he’s actually a footballer, I think he’s a diagram of a twat. Why was he played at all, he’s played over 60 games for England and scored 7 goals. Peter Crouch, on the other hand, has scored 21 goals in 40 games. 3 times as many goals in a third less games. Oh, but he doesn’t play as well off Rooney.

Who cares? He scores doesn’t he? I thought the idea was to score more goals than the opposition?

Maybe the blame should lie with Capello, playing Italian tactics with a team where only one player has played outside the Premier League (Crouch, by the way, on loan with a Swedish side in 2000). His reliance upon Rooney, like Eriksson before him, proved to be disastrous. There was no consistent defence, the midfield was confusing and the front line baffling. Turns out the goalkeeping was, eventually, the only consistent thing, and even then Joe Hart wasn’t playing and he was the best candidate. Not sure I agree Capello’s the problem though.

Because the simple fact is this: that team is immensely talented, but out for themselves. Terry fucked it up by fucking his best mate over, Ferdinand’s appointment as captain was laughable considering how injury prone he was but still sat at home criticising the team in the tabloids. None of them were willing to work together, or for their manager. They got over the embarrassment of the last tournament by actually qualifying and got complacent when they got to the tournament. They still would have played Ghana, who are playing for the pride of their continent: something the English players seem to have forgotten all about.

Pendulum broke onto the music scene a few years ago with a drum n bass sound that crossed over to rock clubs. Slam became a massive club hit, Tarantula soon followed and then mixes like Bacteria and Blood Sugar brought some hope that the music industry had a new Prodigy on our hands. In Silico followed, with a more rock approach – more guitars, less synth, less appeal to the drum and bass crowd but a creation of a good fanbase amongst rock fans.

So what of Immersion, their third release? I’d heard it would follow along the same path as In Silico, then I saw a 15 track playlist featuring Liam Howlett of Prodigy fame (producing ‘Immunize’), prog-rock hero Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree fame (vocals on The Fountain) and a collaboration with metal band In Flames (Self Vs Self). Talk about experimental.

You can hear Howlett’s influence on Immunize: it’s reminiscent of The Fat of the Land, or the Pendulum remix of Voodoo People I put on my summer playlist. Self Vs Self is a powerful metal track, and surprised me in how well the two bands blended together. As for The Fountain, it’s very close to some of the music from In Silico, but just adds a different dimension with Wilson’s lyrics.

As for the rest of the album…15 tracks was probably too many. This isn’t to say there aren’t some brilliant tracks, and die-hards will be pleased to hear that there’s not only a return to Hold Your Colour, but also some experiments with dubstep (see Set Me On Fire). The leading single, Watercolour, is a solid track, a good single, but merely whets the appetite for the rest of the album, as a good single should (you can find Watercolour on our Songs of 2010 playlist). Crush is a blistering track, which has been compared in some quarters to nu-metal heroes Linkin Park. Not sure about that – it’s definitely Pendulum, and their own brand of rock, like Propane Nightmares is. Comprachios sees an attempt at industrial drum n bass, but just sounds like…well, industrial music – Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails, and so on. That’s not to say it’s bad – it’s brave, interesting, and actually…pretty good.

Some tracks just weren’t necessary though. I have two in mind – the conceptual Island (Dawn and Dusk), which while…actually, no, it’s not even…it’s a bit rubbish to be honest. It sounds like that thing Sophie Ellis Bextor did with Spooner remixed by an overexcited teenager. Take that out, and you’ve got a brilliant album, but those additional 9 and a half minutes are a bit pointless.

Overall, it’s a brave album, Pendulum seem to be trying to find their feet, their niche, the direction they want to take. This really does seem like an experimental album, and the majority of it works. I’d be surprised if we see this level of experimentation again, but Pendulum have proved they’re a very versatile group – they experiment with drum n bass, rock, metal, dubstep and industrial and it all works pretty well. As Watercolour is a good preview track for Immersion, Immersion ought to be a good preview album for what this ever-surprising British-Aussie group do next.

4/5

I’m Getting Old

Posted: May 25, 2010 by Ferg in Uncategorized

I can’t believe this counts as music…

I intended to watch this satirical take on suicide bomb planning with an analytical eye, what with my postgrad degree in security and terrorism. After not even 5 minutes, I was howling with laughter so hard that all good and honest intentions flew out the window like a rocket from its launcher.

The premise is this. It tells the story of wannabe jihadists Omar, Waj, Fessal, Barry and Hassan and their pledge to commit terrorism against the West. There has been a reluctance to even make documentaries about such a thing, so for three writers to make a comedy out of it was not only brave, but might have bordered on stupid.

That’s until you look at the writers. Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong, who wrote hit UK sitcom Peep Show, obviously bored because Mitchell and Webb are doing their own thing for a bit, teamed up with The Day Today and Brass Eye writer Chris Morris, notorious for his satirical and ridiculous take on the news.

Three brave writers. One controversial subject. The result though, if you’ll pardon the phrasing, is perfectly executed. It combines Peep Show’s build up of awkward, uncomfortable situations and Morris’s gift for comedy – the situations don’t leave the audience squeamish, like Peep Show does, but delighting in the lines delivered. From Omar’s rationalisation of jihad as ‘like having the fast track pass at Alton Towers’ to simpleton Waj to Barry’s determination to bomb a mosque to unite the ummah (worldwide Islamic community) against the kufr (non-believers). The scenes at the training camp in Pakistan are side-splitting, as are the hair-brained ideas the group come up with.

This isn’t to say the film isn’t shocking, and doesn’t deal with big issues. It openly and honestly challenges the distortion of Islam by extremists, and highlights the contradictory nature of some of the propaganda used to make jihad seem justified. What I found most profound is that these five men are idiots: yet they still manage to construct bombs. This is the challenge security forces face: even an idiot can make a bomb, and carry out a plan.

In spite of the film’s serious nature, its hard hitting theme and how shocking it can be at times, this is still the funniest British film ever. You Monty Python purists can shove it, Shaun of the Dead doesn’t even come close, even classic American comedies like Airplane! can’t contend with the situations, characters and script in this film. You forget while watching that shocking things are bound to happen, which makes them even more poignant when they do happen.

This is a must-see film. I’ve only ever said that about two films in my life before: Donnie Darko (a cult classic) and Kiss Kiss Bang Band (a cult classic). This film is more deserving of ‘cult classic’ status, unfortunately Americans won’t get it so that might be the best it can do.

5/5. A must see.

I didn’t know anything about Caribou when I was asked to review this album, so I did a little research. Caribou is Canadian Dr Dan Snaith. Yes, a doctor: of algebra, no less, a PhD received from Imperial College London. His whole family carries this jealousy-inducing intelligence, but blessedly only Dan went into music, otherwise the whole industry might be overtaken by the Snaiths. The name Caribou was forced upon him when he was politely asked to drop his old name, Manitoba, by way of a lawsuit. So he did what everyone does when faced with this obstacle: drove into the Canadian mountains, took some acid, and let a bear tell him what to change his name to.

I am telling the truth.

Andorra was his breakthrough album in 2007, a hidden jem with some really laid back tracks you might find on a Ministry of Sound chillout album. Thus, it’s a difficult act to live up to.

Swim follows the same playlist formula as Andorra (which I listened to after Swim, for comparison), and ‘Odessa,’ the first track, is the first single from the album. A wise move: Caribou’s material is more strings, bells and whistles than synthesisers and driving beats that his contemporaries may favour. The whole album has an other-worldly, hallucinogenic feel to it, but the lyrics, where appropriate, keep the music firmly rooted on Earth. The fact that the music is more bells and whistles is a nice, relaxing sound to be honest, giving a more cheerful vibe than someone similar but more commercially successful like Moby: the jangly sound makes it feel more like being out in a barbecue in the Rockies than drowning in a sea of melancholic baldness.

For all the cheerful, happy-go-luckiness of it all, Swim perhaps could have done with a little more variety in its songs. It can feel repetitive at times, and after all, that’s what made the Prodigy’s Invader’s Must Die a failure. Thankfully, there’s enough good stuff in this album for it to sit alongside a CD rack that might be full of Chicane and Faithless. If Caribou’s quite happy keeping things low key, as his music suggests, it leaves a little less room for experimenting. But then who needs experimenting when you can put albums of this quality out?

This album feels like it’s not quite everything Snaith wanted from it, but it’s still a very well put together and solid album. Anyone picking this up will be very happy. Anyone who looks further, to find Andorra, for instance, will be even happier to have unearthed such a gem.

You can find ‘Odessa’ on our Spotify Playlist, Blue Air Songs of 2010 (clickety click). I thoroughly recommend giving it a listen.

3.5/5

Right, time to put 3 years of a History degree to good use and analyse the Leaders Debates. I watched all of them in the lead up to the election.

I now want to know why I bothered.

I really, genuinely do. The idea of the debates came from a Sky News push based on the influence the leaders debates have in America. Which in itself is an odd thing to do: America switched from a neo-conservative, neo-religious, inverse IQ administration to the great new hope in Obama. There was no way he was going to lose the election, but Sky News put a lot of emphasis on the sway it has.

Erm, hang on a minute. Isn’t Sky News part of NewsCorp, which also owns The Sun and The Times? Two very widely read newspapers who, in the lead up to the election, pledged their allegiance to the Conservative party? Lets also consider the parallels: Cameron’s a good orator, Obama’s a good orator. McCain spent a lot of time in a warzone, Brown just looks like he did. Realistically, so far, this was all very predictable.

But then no-one saw Nick Clegg coming. Here was a man who is a confident speaker not just in English, but also in French and Dutch. He’s a capable politician who has brought some respect back to the Liberal Democrats after having a leader called ‘Ming’ was the only thing which got them noticed before. In the lead up to the debates, no-one played their cards better than Clegg: he pushed his policies on the abolition of tuition fees to win the student vote; played on electoral reform to swing the outraged Daily Mail reader vote; pledged to raise the minimum wage threshold to win the un and underemployed vote; and, in a time where the rich are getting richer, he pledged to bend those guys over and tax their mansions to the hilt.

Then, in the debates, he came off very well as a new hope: the Guardian even did a cover in their magazine which compared him to Obama. He was the ‘third way,’ and even when the second debate saw Brown and Cameron actually work together to rally against him, he still came off as moderate, reasonable and even likeable. A likeable politician??! In Britain??!

…too good to be true. Cameron came off best in the last debate, and so that declared him the winner. the ‘Cleggmania’ that came about from the first debate was a long, distant memory of a fortnight ago. The initial interest faded and died, the analysis that went into the first debate simply turned into “Cameron won” in the third debate. And in spite of a hung parliament, the Conservatives won more seats, the Lib Dems did WORSE than before, and all the pledges and promises turned into, as Dermot O’Leary so aptly put it, “same shit, different suit.”

Because the Conservatives haven’t changed. Bungling idiots with good educations get good jobs (Osborne, Chancellor). Prejudiced attitudes prevail (Theresa May is the new equalities minister, despite her support for Section 28, opposition to gay adoption and equal ages of consent for straight and gay people). Good men from the Lib Dems get pushed into crappy, second string offices (Cable in Business, Skills and Innovation office and not the Chancellory, Huhne as Energy and Climate secretary, not even Environments Minister).

So tell me. Why did we have the debates if it existed purely to confirm what we already knew? That Brown can’t speak in public (but he can guide us out of a whirlpool of financial conjecture); that Cameron’s cool and calm unless you ask him something he’s not prepared for; and Clegg was the best candidate, but no-one believes in the Lib Dems.

So. Why?

While I waited to start my new job, I thought I’d put a little something together. I wanted variety, a high tempo and a good representation of all the music I enjoy. Instead, you have this! Very little of mine is recent, largely because I’m a bit of a snob. I felt like the guys from High Fidelity coming up with this list (for the record, I wanna be Rob, not Barry or Dick).

So, here we go…Blueair Top 10 Summer Songs by Ferg

1. Space – Female of the Species

The song I instantly think of when I think of summer. Space are responsible for my musical awakening, and this song was everything I loved when it was released…erm…christ, over 10 years ago. That’s upsetting.

2. Tim Armstrong – Into Action

Rancid frontman goes it alone and makes a like-able, upbeat, ska heavy jump-around-get-sweaty song. A favourite at the punk bar I occasionally do shifts at

3. Bouncing Souls – Manthem

You cannot have a summer playlist without these cheerful, happy-go-lucky Jersey punks.

4. Rise Against – Anywhere But Here

Normally sombre and brooding political-punks Rise Against showcase their fast paced, seize the day style with this track from Siren Song of the Counter Culture – one of the finest bands to come from the American punk scene in years.

5. Stiff Little Fingers – Tin Soldiers

OK, not doing my attempt at not being Dick from High Fidelity any favours, BUT this is a great track. The subject matter might be a touch heavy but the chorus is a beauty, and the tempo good to nod along to. Not that I’m encouraging Churchill comparisons…

6. Prodigy vs Pendulum – Voodoo People

New drum and bass heroes Pendulum take a shot at the big boys by remixing one of their better tracks. Blindingly good.

7. Sage Francis – Dance Monkey

Sage Francis is normally more politically motivated in his songs (check out ‘Makeshift Patriot’), but this is a more conventionally entertaining hip-hop track. Well, as conventional as white guys can manage!

8. Motion City Soundtrack – Don’t Call It A Comeback

The highlight of the time I went to see blink182 were my discovery oif Motion City Soundtrack. This track was put on Punk O Rama 8 to try and bring them to more people’s attention, and recent ads on Spotify indicate their stock is rising still. Big on the Warped Tour, should be bigger here. This song is why.

9. Millencolin – Ray

There’s something about Sweden which puts out great punk bands – Backyard Babies, Raised Fist, Turbonegro, and top of the pile Millencolin. Been going for years, and normally more ska, this was of 2005’s Kingwood album.

10. Vandals – Don’t Stop Me Now

The best Queen cover I’ve ever heard by the kings of punk covers (they’ve also done Supercajifragilisticexpialidocious, , So Long Farewell and Jilted John).

No picture from me. I did a video