Posts Tagged ‘ Daft Punk ’

JUST AN OBSERVATION

Just An Observation Friday July 5th

 rammed photo

 Allegedly there is a heatwave on the way! At last, is all I can say, as I really need to see lots of lobster coloured people walking the streets of Edinburgh moaning about the unbearable heat and forgetting that only a short while ago they were complaining just as bitterly about the cold/wind/rain/wind (delete as applicable or don’t delete if all apply) and wishing it were a little warmer/ sunnier/drier (delete as applicable again). It is about time we had a semblance of a summer in Scotland and 2013 has not been too bad thus far although the traditional storm clouds gathered and torrential rain made a fleeting appearance as soon as the Scottish school holidays began.

Perhaps we should just reconsider when these holidays take place or whether they are necessary at all! It is definitely worth a try suspending them indefinitely if the end result is we all get better weather.  Just a thought!

 The Edinburgh International Film Festival ended last Sunday and I must admit it was with more of a whimper than a bang. Totally underwhelmed not only by the films but also by promotion of the event I find it amazing that when I am out and about so many local residents are unaware  it is even taking place. Being one of the world’s longest running events of its kind s to sweep it to the side is pretty unforgivable and shows a lack of concern for Scottish culture which is constantly undervalued anyway. Apparently one of the big sells this year was that they were showing many films which had been refused by other similar film festivals although whether this is a good or bad thing is still unclear in my mind. Did we show the cream of the crop or were we scraping the dregs from the bottom of the barrel.

Not everything was bad however and for a more detailed report of what is and isn’t worthwhile just click here for more detailed insights and reviews.

 Next week sees T in the Park make a return which means that inevitably so will the rain. Last year was more T in the Swamp and turned into a totally washed out mudfest. I am being pressured into going to see Kraftwerk on the Friday evening-which I am convinced would be really quite something- on the premise that I will be in the VIP area. I must admit to being tempted but would be more tempted if I was being transported in and out via a specially chartered helicopter.

Much as I love Kraftwerk I have seen them live before in much more suitable pristine surroundings and they were simply outstanding and among one of the best live shows I have ever seen. I am not sure I want this memory sullied by mud and the indignity of portaloos.

 This weekend there are two interesting events occurring though as luck would have it they are both on at the same time. First up is the launch of Neu! Reekie co-founder Michael Pedersen’s debut poetry collection, Play With Me, at the Scottish Storytelling Centre. Several years of hard work finally comes to fruition at this event which also features appearances by former Fire Engine and current Jesus! Baby singer Davy Henderson alongside fellow Neu! Reekie cohort Kevin Williamson among others. Definitely one to check out if you can although if you miss it there will be a similar follow up event on Friday 16th August as part of the International Book Festival.

 Elsewhere an intriguing and adventurous new night featuring live music within a club environment called Rammed is launching at the Speakeasy in the Voodoo Rooms at 8pm. Its creators claim they are trying to put back some of the elements missing from Edinburgh nightlife over the last few years whilst adding a few new elements to ensure that proceedings remain both current and relevant. Musical acts for the launch are the unforgettable Homesick Aldo and the riotous Andy and the Prostitutes with DJ sets by the Baron and Anna Kissed. There is already a buzz about this event and if toxic glamour and excellent music is your thing then I suggest you make sure you don’t miss it.

 That is it for this week and I am off out to bask in, what I am hoping by now is tropical sunshine. Either that or I am staying indoors to hunt out a pair of wellies and parka to go and see Kraftwerk. Now that is a sentence I thought I would never write!

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JUST AN OBSERVATION

Just An Observation Friday May 17th

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 With two and a half –count ‘em- months until the Festival madness kicks into gear and the Royal Mile becomes taken over by tourists and so-called entertainment types the famous street, housing a castle at one end and a palace at the other, has been in receipt of a fair amount of action and attention this week in two very separate incidents taking place only a few yards from each other.

 First, Tuesday evening saw a pharmacy being held up whilst  customers and staff were held hostage for several hours. The drama unfolded early evening after a couple supposedly in search of their latest fix and planning a drug haul- let’s face it there can be little other reason for holding up a pharmacy unless a lifetime supply of haemorrhoid cream is your goal- and the street was cordoned off until the police tasered the aggressors and released the hostages.

 Drama number two occurred only two days later involving Nigel Farage of the obnoxious UKIP party on an ill advised visit to a bar only several yards away. Intolerant of his views the feisty Scots gathered outside a pub he was enjoying a pint in and demanded for his expulsion by gathering and chanting ‘Scum, scum’ until he was forced to retreat. Never one to miss an opportunity Farage referred to the incident as the ugly side of nationalism and typically used the event as a means of comparing the Scots less favourably with our counterparts down south who are far more ‘enlightened’ and voting for him in worryingly ever growing  numbers.

 Whilst I agree totally with the sentiments of the protesters what impressed me was the fact the majority of them seemed to be from what I have recently termed the complacent younger generation. The fact they seemed to have removed their attention from their laptops, phones etc. was perhaps what impressed me the most and shows that maybe there is a bit more hope for them and they do actually have a sense of propriety and principle if the situation occasions it. Maybe they will get around to making some decent music and produce a worthwhile act next!

 What with all this action in a short space and the God-awful weather to go with it – sleet, snow, blazing sunshine, gusting wind, hail and torrential rain all made separate appearances in a two hour time slot on Monday alone- it really felt as if the Festival had come early this year.

 After all this excitement the big disappointment of the week for me though has to have been  the arrival of the new Daft Punk album. The fact it is not released until Monday is neither here nor there as leaks on the internet necessitated an official streaming. The hype which had preceded this had prepared us all for a classic album and a comeback to rival that of Bowie’s who has really shown everyone how it should be done. Again. Instead the resulting album with a host of impressive collaborators- Niles Rodgers, Giorgio Moroder and Julian Casablancas- came over all self consciously funky and, even worse, a ‘try hard’ effort. Overly long , over indulgent and over indulged it is an album housing a series of missed opportunities which could –with severe editing and better programming- have been great. A full, review and chance to listen to the album in its entirety can be found here.

 Tonight sees an interesting gig at the Leith Links Cricket Club- I know it hardly sounds rock and roll and it is reminiscent of Phoenix Nights but give it a chance with local-and QT- favourites the recently dubbed ‘coolest band in Scotland’ HRH headlining. Other acts include The Priscillas , Paul Vickers and Et Tu Brute??? are also on the bill and at only £4 entry and cheap drink all night what is not to like? Starting at 7pm and going on until 1am it is definitely worth checking out.

 Today however I am off to see the Baz Luhrmann interpretation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s literary classic –and personal favourite- ‘The Great Gatsby’. I approach the film with an open mind but also mixed feelings as it is to me –and a host of others- one of those books which perhaps should  really not be touched. It is particularly poignant at the moment as I attended a party several weeks ago where we danced under the stars with a collection of beautiful and glamorous people whilst live musicians belted out songs for our entertainment as the drink flowed freely against the backdrop of 300 acres of forest and I remember commenting to a young girl who waltzed by in fabulous furs- fake I presume- ‘It’s like being in ‘The Great Gatsby’. The film has a lot to live up to then and hopefully Luhrmann is the man to do it.

 Not been impressed by much on television recently but catch up introduced me to a new drama set in Northern Ireland; ‘The Fall’. All the prerequisites of good modern television are there including Gillian Anderson as visiting police officer out to assist in a baffling case and former Calvin Klein underwear model Jamie Dornan as  the fit, good looking slow burning psychopath. The first episode whetted my appetite for more and occupying the same time slot on a Monday at 9pm –although on BBC2 without the irritation of constant adverts interrupting the dramatic flow- as recent success ‘Broadchurch’,it could become a cult classic.

Mind you if you prefer your drama more realistic you could simply hang around the Royal Mile and wait for lightning- now there is something missing from our weather line up this week so far- to strike thrice!

DAFT PUNK -RANDOM ACCESS MEMORIES

Daft Punk –Random Access Memories

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 When Daft Punk released their debut ‘Homework’ in 1997 neither they nor us would have believed its legacy would still stand strong sixteen years later and it would  be a relevant work still capable of ripping the arse out of any dancefloor or party it chooses to visit. Its follow up ‘Discovery’ leant heavily towards the eighties but was still a great album even if it lacked the urgency and innovation of its mighty predecessor. Since then not much has troubled the public from Daft Punk world with a so-so third album. Until now. Then before it is even released the fourth Daft Punk album is dividing opinion as to whether it is a future classic which deserves all the hype and plaudits or a musical Emperor’s New Clothes which promised so much more than it actually delivers.

 The actual album itself is probably somewhere in the middle of those two opinions and its supporters are right in saying it is funky and danceable whilst its detractors are correct in observing it is overly long-clocking in at over an hour it makes the same mistake many made in the nineties when CD technology allowed the artist to include every outtake, belch, fart and bowel movement to the detriment of the finished work- and strays into prog territory a little too often for comfort. Having listened to it five times in its entirety I can’t imagine I would actually want to sit through the whole thing again. Not that it is designed solely for listening as Daft Punk are essentially a dance act so we are supposed to get up and strut our funky stuff.

 The marketing which has preceded the album also plays a part in this divisive reception, as teasers, speculation, leaks and a roll call of impressive collaborators- Giorgio Moroder, Niles Rodgers, Julian Casablancas step up to the mark-have heralded this as a classic before anyone had even heard the impressive lead off single; the Niles Rodgers led and Chic heavy, ‘Get Lucky’ which as an appetiser whetted appetites even further. However as far as ad campaigns go it is a non starter compared to the lack of fuss, teaser or even any inclination an album was on the way tactics deployed by a certain Mr. Bowie earlier this year. By simply releasing a single, with no fanfare or heralding at midnight as January 7th turned into January 8th  his 66th birthday, he was global news by breakfast. Now THAT is a marketing campaign.

 Onto the music then and the album starts off innocuously enough with another Niles Rodgers heavy track- actually his presence is the DNA coursing throughout and his funky fingerprints are all over the work- which is competent enough but never really catches fire or takes flight. It is strange then to follow it up with the downbeat and melancholic ‘Game of Love’ which would have been better placed after a more rousing effort; as it stands it is akin to having the comedown before you’ve even had the high. Third track in features Giorgio Moroder talking us through his own personal musical evolution before the Punk boys enter the fray with a funky electronic workout which again is competent enough but sounds too much like a Jean Michel Jarre track from the seventies to have any futuristic credentials. As a tribute Daft Punk are capable of coming up with a lot better than this and as an opportunity it is a bit of a wasted one.

‘Within’ is up next featuring elegiac electronically enhanced wistfulness to great effect. ‘Instant Crush’ featuring Julian Casablancas taking a well earned rest from his more natural indie habitat and rewards him with the best track of the album so far. ‘Lose Yourself to Dance’ is another Pharrell Williams/ Niles Rodgers workout which works well enough but as a Rodgers collaboration it won’t be troubling Sheila & B. Devotion’s ‘Spacer’ or anything by Sister Sledge as a dance-floor classic anytime soon. ‘Touch’ with guest Paul Williams- sounding uncannily like  Marianne Faithfull croaking her way through ‘Chanson D’Amour in parts- is a big number which takes a little too long to get going from its ‘Shaft’ like beginnings but when it does is worthwhile.

 The big single ‘Get Lucky’ strolls in next and wipes the dancefloor with much of what has gone before. A big, breezy summer classic for a summer we are still waiting for. If it ever arrives at least we have the perfect song to add a little bit more sunshine to the day. Around this juncture I found my momentum waning as following a highlight like this was always going to be a tough order. The following few tracks are capable enough but ‘Fragments of Time’ sounds worryingly like  Steely Dan.  Whilst there is nothing wrong with this per se as Steely Dan have their right time and place it becomes clear it is just not on a Daft Punk album.

 The penultimate track ‘Doin’it Right’ redeems things slightly but the closer ‘Contact’ strays a little too close to bombastic prog for my tastes. And there it is, the latest Daft Punk album in its –very long- entirety.

 Somewhere in the sprawling mass there actually is a great album struggling to get out. However some severe editing and more thoughtful sequencing would have helped elevate it to this status. As it stands it is both over indulged and over indulgent and not quite the classic the hype had promised.

As a footnote, after the intensity of listening to it five times in order to give it a fair hearing I found myself  listening to the aforementioned ‘Spacer’ and Suicide’s debut by way of a palette cleanser. Perhaps as reference points these are missed opportunities on an album which seems to lose its way-along with my attention- on several occasions.

Hear the album here.https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/daft-punk/id5468295

JUST AN OBSERVATION

Just An Observation Friday April 26th

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 So much for spring then! The arctic chill of winter may have been replaced by warmer temperatures but the inclusion of gusting winds-making a state of dishevelment the only viable fashion option- and regular interludes of heavy showers further complicating things. At least it has been possible to lose at least one layer of clothing and the obligatory scarf, gloves and hat essential to the winter wardrobe can be laid to rest, even if only temporarily if last summer’s weather was anything to go by.

A little bit of sunshine did however arrive this week in the form of Daft Punk’s new single Get Lucky featuring Niles Rodgers and Pharrell Williams which draws from the heady days of Chic and will be packing out floors in clubs, at parties and weddings etc. for months to come. Ignoring all the superfluous remixes which immediately followed in its wake the original is a sublime piece of irresistible electric funkiness which bodes well for their long awaited upcoming album, to be released in mid-May, Random Access Memories.

Musically 2013 would seem to be the year of the great comeback with many artists who have absented themselves for too long stepping back into the limelight with more than worthwhile offerings. Aside from the French duo-who haven’t released new material since 2005- the return of David Bowie has overshadowed all other comers and the album The Next Day can hold its head high with his seventies meisterwerks showing that a sixty six year old nicknamed the Dame by the music press still knows how to make an entrance and steal the limelight from all the young pretenders.

Whilst Nick Cave has not been away in any real sense his latest album Push the Sky Away has also emerged as one of his best in a long, illustrious and ,in the main, consistent career. Every song on this collection drips with the haunting glacial beauty and inherent darkness one would normally associate with a Cave opus but to add to this he has embraced production techniques to add a new layer of depth and intrigue taking the album to another dimension and garnering it a sense of longevity and individuality.

 The Yeah Yeah Yeahs have also embraced the studio craft at their disposal and their album Mosquito is a natural progression from 2009’s It’s Blitz and is perhaps their most complete album yet. It is however contender for worst album cover of the year and it is lucky the music contained within manages to dispel this image quite so convincingly.

 Daft Punk are not the only band releasing long awaited material in May as Primal Scream debut More Light , their new album, a week earlier following the success of their blistering and topical 2013 single and with the supremely talented Laura Marling poised to release her fourth outing at the end of the month the soundtrack for a perfect summer should be more than in place. If however the weather lets us down- and it is the UK so the likelihood is high- at least we will have some great music to accompany our inevitable moaning about it.

 The news and social media over the last ten days have been full of the Boston Marathon bombing and I must admit that although there is something suspect about the whole situation-one supposed perpetrator dead and the other facing the death penalty-the conspiracy theories and theorists are becoming slightly tiresome. Americans are particularly adept at rewriting history-usually via movies see Lincoln and Argo- and they usually leave few witnesses as Kennedy’s assassination and Marilyn Monroe’s still suspicious death both revealed but us Brits are no slouches in this department either. Princess Diana’s death had more than its fair share of doubters and Thatcher’s death last week saw a virtual rewriting of a time I grew up in and remember very differently. I only watched about five minutes of her funeral and actually questioned whether they were burying the right woman so removed from my recollection and image of her was it.

 It would seem there have always been conspiracy theorists and theories and there always will be. History is written by winners of wars and those who control the media-it is worth remembering that up until just over one hundred years ago only an insignificant portion of the population were literate therefore history lay in the hands, perceptions and agendas of those few- and that perhaps the only way to approach it is with a certain uncertainty.

 Here to take us into yet another weekend is that uplifting new song by Daft Punk so put on your dancing shoes and prepare to hit a dancefloor. Stuff history it’s the future we have to live in!

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