Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Why Did Joss Whedon Delete This Great Captain America Scene From The Avengers (2012)!?!

You know, I would have liked The Avengers (2012) even more if this scene had been in it.

This is exactly the sort of Steve Rogers scene I wanted. It would have been a nice counterbalance to the hammy Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) moments early in the film. And it would have provided a more rounded portrait of Cap that would have helped make him look like a more vital member of the team later in the film.

I will buy the DVD just to get this scene and the other deleted scenes, I'm sure.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Phil Noto Version Of Green Arrow and Black Canary

I really can't tell you how much I love this image.

I was a 5-year-old kid in 1972 being raised by two liberal democratic parents -- and my mom's democratic grandparents -- and I can remember running around my grandparents' backyard "playing" Green Arrow as the news on the radio blared Vietnam War horrors and anti-Nixon news.

Some of the first non-kiddie comics I was allowed to buy were Green Lantern/Green Arrow issues -- I think I had one or two of those Neal Adams/Dennis O'Neill ones.

This image is from the wonderful Phil Noto. Check out his site here:

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Six Organs of Admittance Drop Ascent: A Review of the New Album

The first question you're gonna have is:

"When did this guy turn into Neil Young?"

Yeah, the change is a bit odd but maybe not too extreme. Six Organs of Admittance frontman Ben Chasny had worked with Comets on Fire before. Still, it was time to turn up the amps and take those guys into the Louder Studios and crank out what would become Ascent, out 21 August on Drag City.

Ascent, like that last David Kilgour record, puts the guitar at the forefront of the mix and turns that bad boy up...with a few feet tapping effects pedals all the way.

Instrumental opener "Waswasa" still rocks.

"Close to the Sky" unfurls like The Pixies trying desperately to do a blues jam behind Spiritualized-style vocals. Still, the vocals seem like an afterthought as the song's mission is to deliver that payload of a guitar workout. The axe unloads what sounds like knives on a steel door and then gently drops down to Carlos Santana-style melody lines.

"They Called You Near" is eerie mood-rocker -- the feedback used as a sort of instrumental bed under the near-whispered vocals.

"Solar Ascent" is a short comedown from the fire of the early cuts. An instrumental that -- dare I say it? -- recalls Mark Knopfler -- the good Knopfler of his soundtrack work, not the AOR hack! The tune is gentle and the guitar sounds on this tune are no less impressive even if the volume and fury have been diminished.

"One Thousand Birds" is the monstrous wall-of-noise that it was before when it was a streaming tease for the record.

"Your Ghost" might be the sound that some expect of Ben Chasny. Over a lovely plucked line, Chasny gently sings the lyrics. The effect is like a Buckley or Drake cut from another era. A beautiful tune -- the eye of the storm on this ferocious record.

"Even If You Knew" marries those soft vocals up to a Stooges-worthy bass riff and some more guitar histrionics.

"Visions (from Io)" is the slow-burn close. The near "Cathedral"-Eddie Van Halen-on-mellow opening hook captivates and the vocals slow things down. A soft and soothing way to end the otherwise furious Ascent.

Ascent is out on 21 August 2012 on Drag City.

Follow Ben Chasny and Six Organs of Admittance on the official website:

Monday, August 13, 2012

Free MP3 From Glitches!

You know why I like this track from Glitches? 'Cause it sounds a bit like Mansun and I miss Mansun.

Not sure what the guys in Glitches would think of that comparison but it's meant as a very high compliment.

You can download the Numan-meets-Mansun sinister chirp of "Dust and Shadow" below.


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In Which I Visit The Emergency Room In Hong Kong

It seems hard to believe that so much pain could come from falling on the pavement 3 nights ago.

Well, I went to look at a free sofa on Thursday night and decided to take a slightly different shortcut home to my apartment on Lamma Island.

So I decided to use the path that runs through Chow Yun-Fat's family's tofu stand which is somewhere in the left of this picture shot from my apartment balcony.

"Do not trespass on my family's property fatty!"

I caught my left ankle on a big vine that was growing across the pavement and I fell, hitting the pavement like a dropped bag of sand.

Despite being a big guy, my fat didn't do much to brace my fall as it seems like my ribs, wrist, and knee connected with the concrete.

I staggered up to my feet and surveyed the damage. No blood but my pants were split at the knee and my pride was obviously damaged.

I woke up in pain on Friday morning and wondered whether I should go to the doctor? After talking to my stepfater (a former college wrestler and so the sort of guy who'd know about real bodily injuries), I figured that nothing was broken and so I'd give it a few days and see if the pain went away. According to him, there was nothing that could be done for a bruised, or even cracked, rib so I waited.

As of this morning, I was still experiencing really strong, sharp pains when bending, or trying to yawn, or taking a deep breath. And sneezing or coughing were quite a bit worse.

The pain was still quite severe at times so I gave in this morning and decided to see a doctor and get an x-ray.

As that clinic on Lamma was not up to the task, I set out for the first decent hospital after hitting Hong Kong Island this morning and that led me to Queen Mary Hospital.

The best thing about Queen Mary Hospital may very well be the presence of a 7-11 on the property! How cool is that?

After some little bit of confusion thanks to the unhelpful clerk working the registration desk, I managed to sign in and wait my turn.

The triage nurse who saw me a few minutes later -- so much for worrying about that 2-hour wait promised in the signs in the waiting room for folks with non-emergency conditions like mine -- was quite nice and she first asked if she had pronounced my name correctly when she had paged me. She had.

I then got my vitals taken and waited a few more minutes and got called back to see the doctor. The doc was quite young, which was a bit disoncerting. But he quickly assessed my condition, and he also answered some questions I had about my blood pressure medication.

An x-ray followed and then I got the verdict (contusion) and learned that nothing was broken, despite it feeling like a bunch of needles every time I try to take a big breath or yawn or lay on my side or bend to tie my shoes.

The emergency room here follows the old British style of calling it "accident and emergency" which was also the name of a These Animal Men record!

The wait for medication begins. This was just like being at the DMV in the States. I was number 619 and I got to the counter to pick up my medications within 20 minutes -- maybe less.

The whole adventure took almost 4 hours, which sounds like a long time but imagine how long it would take if you rolled into an emergency room in the States!

The total financial damage was only $100HKD -- about $12USD!!! AND the medications were free!!!

I've got health insurance thanks to my job here but I wonder why I need it with costs that low?

The view from the hospital in Pok Fu Lam is quite nice...

Medications! I don't think I want to take too many of the painkillers.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

New Free EP From Pulco (ex-Derrero)

It's his birthday and what does he do? Former Derrero frontman Ash Cooke -- as Pulco -- releases a free EP on his birthday, that's what!

The guy is prolific, energetic, creative, and full of ideas and this new EP, entitled Eh - Vont - Gade, contains 7 tunes recorded back in May 2012 for the Garden of Earthly Delights radio show.

Continuing on from the spoken word vibe of Man of Lists, these 7 cuts feature moments of eerie magic -- those bells (?) on "Dr. Doom" -- and moments of whimsy -- "A World In Which You Cannot Win" and its galloping, John Cale-in-the-early-1970s-beat.

"Egg shells" won me over with that organ figure. A haunting little moment and the sort of thing that Ash can seemingly crank out easily.

You can download Eh - Vont - Gade for free here.

Man of Lists is out now on Folkwit Records.

Follow Pulco on the relatively new Pulco website:

Or on Bandcamp here:

Monday, August 6, 2012

New Video from Childhood! Play It Here in All Its Trippy Goodness!

How can I like a band so much who've released so little?

These guys are just great.

Remember how A.R.Kane blew your mind in 1988? Remember how, on first listen, you knew that Ride had a whole lot more tricks up their Oxford sleeves than an arm reaching to plug in an effects pedal?

Yeah? Well that feeling is here.

This is the video for "Haltija", the new song from London's Childhood.

With that echo chamber on the vocals, and the guitar rippling out like the sort of sound The Charlatans were flailing at in 1989, this is one beautiful tune.

Follow Childhood on their Facebook page:

Saturday, August 4, 2012

My Interview with Gwenno (The Pipettes)

Following on from my recent review of her new EP, Ymbelydredd, I was lucky enough to get to interview Gwenno of The Pipettes.

So here goes!

Glenn, kenixfan: I would like to get your thoughts on the overall presentation of The Pipettes. Not to get too intellectual, but there was something very smart about The Pipettes. There were some similarities between your band and The Jesus and Mary Chain, and not just because of your shared love of pre-Beatles pop and Phil Spector. No, the similarity was that both The Pipettes' songs and The Jesus and Mary Chain's tunes -- at least their early stuff -- worked on both intellectual and emotional levels. The material was carefully presented and there was a sense, as a listener, that the creator was knowingly referencing past pop styles all while conjuring up something new. In other words, you could groove on the tunes and the melodies but you could also stop yourself and look at the pieces and see how "smart" the whole thing was. Am I overthinking things? How did The Pipettes put their stuff together?

GWENNO: I think you've nailed it! I'd also add that the element of humour that ran through all the early songs tied it all together too.

Glenn, kenixfan: Your new EP reveals quite a few new influences compared to your work with The Pipettes. Did you intentionally set out to do something entirely different?

GWENNO: It wasn't intentional but I suppose it is naturally a bit different as it's in a different language (Welsh), so there are other influences as well as the more Anglo/American pop stuff. I haven't felt the need to make a massive stand against what we did in The Pipettes so far, I'm really proud of it, and I didn't have to hold back on any of my influences whilst I was in the band, I've just fleshed them out a bit now as I suppose I'm making music that's a bit more personal to me. The Pipettes was a bit like going to university (I haven't had the chance to go, yet..) the 'University of Pop Culture'! so regardless of what I did after it, it would be a big influence over whatever I did next creatively I think.

[Here's evidence to the pop genius of The Pipettes. This is the Gwenno-led flip-side "Guess Who Ran Off With The Milman?" -- that bridge is sublime!]

Glenn, kenixfan: How did it feel to produce your own work? The record has a great sound to it -- your time with Martin Rushent was well-spent 'cause his influence looms large here.

GWENNO: I'm so chuffed you've said that! Martin was a MASSIVE influence on my EP. Whenever I got stuck on something I'd always ask myself 'what would Martin do?' and I'd try and do that. I really missed being able to call him up to ask him for his advice, he was so incredibly generous with his time. We recorded with him for well over a year and stayed at his house so I got to see him at work every day, and it had a massive influence on me. I've recorded my own stuff for about 12 years now, and it just felt like the right time to take full responsibility of the production side of it too, I just made what I like the sound of with the equipment that I had at home.

Glenn, kenixfan: Does it bother you when people -- like me -- compare your sound here to Saint Etienne or Altered Images?

GWENNO: Not at all, I love both bands!

Glenn, kenixfan: The songs are in Welsh. My grandfather's grandparents might have spoken Welsh but I don't so tell me what some of the songs are about.

GWENNO: Well, the general gist of it all is that it's all about my childhood and teenage years growing up in Cardiff in the late 80s and 90s. I've just moved back and I couldn't believe how much my home town had changed, I just wanted to try and remember what it was like for me, almost like a snapshot.

Glenn, kenixfan: Specifically, I'd like to hear more about "Despenser St." as the tune is, obviously, about a Cardiff location that is clearly near to your heart.

GWENNO: "Despenser St." is the name of the first street that I lived on in the Riverside area of Cardiff. We lived in a downstairs flat, and it was pretty rough, I remember the bathroom wall falling down so we had to have baths in front of the fire, and then the ceiling fell down on my Dad's head because upstair's pipes had broken, and then some drunk guy broke in looking for the man upstairs and nearly stabbed everyone with a kitchen knife...and then we moved to a flat round the corner on Neville Place and the ceiling fell down again! it all sounds quite scary but we're all here to tell the tale so we laugh about it now. The melody was really sweet so I wanted to sing lyrics that counteracted that, the song is just a stream of consciousness really. I think the most traumatic experiences in life should be treated with a sense of humour, I think that's what I'm trying to aim at here!

Glenn, kenixfan: What's next for Gwenno? You've done work in quite a few different genres and you're adept at many different styles so you must feel a certain freedom now, right?

GWENNO: I do, definitely. What I'd really like to do is to continue to write and sing in Welsh and Cornish. They're my first languages and I don't think I've had the chance to explore them in the same way as I have English. I think I'll become a better writer if I can master them to some degree through song. It is harder as they're minority languages so you naturally feel more precious about them, but I think there are (still) more thoroughly modern stories to be told through them.

Glenn, kenixfan: Thank you once again.

For now, follow Gwenno on her Facebook page:

Or on her Tumblr page:

Or on the Peski Records Facebook page:
Peski Records

[Keyboard photo:Michal Iwanowski/video stills: Steve Glashier/artwork: Tom Winfield]

Some Thoughts on Batgirl 1 (2009)

The fine folks at DC Comics make it hard on a reader. I go and try to catch up on the Stephanie Brown turn as Batgirl only to read that she's dead. And the DC Universe continuity -- surprise, surprise -- was rebooted -- again! -- in the New 52 arc after this Batgirl series!?!

This is why I'm a Marvel fan. They do this crap too but it somehow seems less annoying when they do it.

Anyway, Batgirl 1 was a nice read and Stephanie Brown makes a believable and likable Batgirl. Still, the story here is very slight and it functions as a teaser for the next issues.

Bryan Q. Miller does a decent job of setting things up but the art by Lee Garbett is what drew me in. Not too silly and not to dark, things here are lively and engaging.

I especially liked this moment below and the way Stephanie considers a future as Batgirl.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Free Download from Omega Male (ex-Fujiya and Miyagi)

With an album set to release on the cool Full Time Hobby label, Omega Male have now shown up on my radar.

Sounding like Shriekback -- those mellow cuts, at least -- with a hint of Gary Numan and early Depeche Mode, Omega Male produce smart and sleek, lo-fi electronic music.

You can play and download "Omega Male" by Omega Male below.

Omega Male is Brighton's David Best, from Fujiya and Miyagi, and Sammy Rubin from Brooklyn's Project Jenny Project Jan.

Follow them for now on Facebook:

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Stream New Six Organs of Admittance Track Here

Here's another new track from Six Organs of Admittance from their upcoming album Ascent, out 21 August on Drag City.

Part guitar workout, part spacerock anthem, "One Thousand Birds" is another potent slice of rock from Ben Chasny and his band.

For now, follow Six Organs of Admittance on their website:

Or on their Drag City Records page here.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Free Download From Parade - Light Me Up

I don't care that these Brit gals came from a TV show -- or so I've been told -- this is a cracking good pop tune!

Working with Sugababes and Girls Aloud producer Tim Powell, these ladies have crafted a sleek and propulsive bit of pop bliss.

Instantly catchy, summery, and surprisingly joyous, "Light Me Up" is the perfect song to crank up as the heat rises in August.

Follow the instructions on the Soundcloud page to download the track.

Follow the gals of Parade on their Facebook page: