Monday, January 31, 2011

(Kinda) good weekend: Venus and The Flat-cooling Friends

On Friday night we drive through to Phil's flat. It was the last night he'll be spending in the place before moving to Pretoria. So he's rounded us all up to celebrate the opposite of a house-warming (a house-cooling?) Cue a whole evening of knee-slapping good times. Anja wants to stay later than I do, but, knowing we have quite a big day tomorrow, I drag her home. On Saturday morning she packs up her stuff that's been living in my room the past two months. It's a pretty crap feeling, knowing this is her last day living in Joburg, but we make the most of it, reading comic and watching TV shows. By 3 we head up the road to Cafe Mexico for Anja's farewell. Most of the usual suspects are there and as usual a jolly old time is had by one and all. After we've stuffed ourselves full of chessy, chilli goodness we head home and rock a final session of Ilomilo and Alan Wake. Jason and Franci come by and we drive through to The Bioscope. The cities greatest independent cinema has just opened the doors of The Chalkboard Cafe, the little coffee shop that's moved into the space previously held by Malva. We meet up with Matt and Nix and head into the cinema still waiting for Shannon and Matthew (who as it turns out never show up). We've come through to see a screening of the new Zeitgeist film, Moving Forward. The film turns out to be pretty absurdly long, separated by interval (!) which features Darryl giving me a complementary cup of Etheopian coffee which I promptly ruin by accidently mistake incense crystals for sugar. Luckily Russle saves my life and points out what I've just done before I take a sip. So, without tasting this exciting new bevrage I head back in to finish the film. Credit roll, we head home. Anja and I wake up early on Sunday, grab some breakfast and head through to Patrick's. We have a cup of tea, then Anja and Patrick climb into Anja's little car and head off on the long drive across the country. I head home, once again a Ben who's girlfriend lives in a far away city. Trying not to feel to down about this I console my self by eating chocolate peppermint cupcakes and finally playing through the totally stellar last two hours of Mass Effect 2. Now, with one of the best video game endings of this generation under my belt, i head off to Hyde Park. Meet up with sonja, ADK, Koos and much later Liz, who's hooked up tickets for the 5 of us to see a preview screening of Black Swan, which, as I'm sure you've heard, is a pretty damn great piece of cinema.

He's talking about the whole world here, but this could be a manifesto for us Africans.

"there's no big label deals, no coke and hooker parties, ... and yr never going to get on top of the pops. so the only people left to start bands are those who just have an urge to make rock music are the ones driven to do it out of pure love for the music, the buzz of playing live and watching people move to their songs & take them home & soundtrack their lives."

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My Year in Lists. 20 favourite albums of 2010

Here's a wee list of my 20 favourite full-length albums released over the course of 2010. You may notice there aren't any South African albums on this list; for the list of my favourite local releases head here. The order of albums included in that lists was totally random, but in the case of this list I tried to order them from my least to my most favourite of the favourites.

Two Door Cinema Club - Tourist History
We Have Band - WHB
Broken Social Scene - Forgiveness Rock
Errors - Come Down with me
Surfer Blood - Astro Coast
Tubelord - Tezcatlipocat & For the Grandparents
(two half albums make a whole one right?)

Tanlines - Volume On
Broken Bells - ST
Tame Impala - Innerspeaker
Best Coast - Crazy for you
Dangerous Ponies - ST
Fang Island - ST
LCD Soundsystem - This Happening
Janelle Monae - The ArchAndroid
Los Campesinos - Romance is Boring
Everyone Everywhere - ST
So So Modern - Crude Futures
Tera Melos - Patagonian Rats
Les Savy Fav - Root for Ruin
Tokyo Police Club - Champ

So there you have it! 2010 held some disappointments (Ratatat I'm looking at you. Thanks for breaking my heart you dicks). I'm sure there are albums I will adore but have missed, but I did find a bunch of things I loved. From the almost irritating niceness of Two Door Cinema Club to the absurdly ambitious genre-melting sci-fi wonder of Janelle Monae, there was a lot for me to like this year. But it's the albums in the top 5 that I was most obsessed with.

The surprise joy of Junior filling me in on Everyone Everywhere, a band who sound like they're sitting in Philly recording songs just for him in Birmingham and me in Jozi. The shock of discovering So So Modern somehow metamorphosised into a post-rock art-punk mammoth; realizing the synth-driven promise that always got me excited about Errors and merging it with a freak-fuck-out exuberance to match Fugazi. The pleasure of seeing Tera Melos going post post-rock; (like favourites Trail of Dead and Blood Brothers did before them) coming from abrasive beginings, bravely adding a bucket-load of pop-sense to the mix and ending up a far better band because of it. The satisfaction of seeing Les Savy Fav doing what they've always done best. And finally the total euphoria I felt every single time I listened to Champ; hearing Tokyo Police Club living up to the great promise of their debut EP, releasing an album that's as catchy, emotive and sincere as anything I heard all year.

These last five albums become friends I'd hang out with every day, engravings that'll always be etched in my mind when I think of 2010 and treasures I'll happily carry with me into the future.