The LAD; a primitive species.

The LAD, a stigmatized yet friendly species is now considered the superior of the male species. The LAD can often be found presiding in flocks in the VIP section of every universities “most popular” night clubs on the “most popular” club nights in the city. I myself may often find myself indulging in some of their favourite literature such as TheLADBible or UniLAD, but whilst doing this I often wonder what’s university like for my fellow non-LADS?

I mean, though there may be a stigma on this friendly type of male, who realistically is only looking for their next Nando’s date or the next wave of banter that comes their way, what about Britain’s favourite subject; the underdog?

I had never met a LAD until I moved to university; to be completely honest I didn’t even know there was a divide. Yet after almost two years at my university, it’s becoming clearer.

I introduce the non-LAD, never afraid of body hair, often chubby because their obsession with the gym and protein shake is non-existent and can often be seen wandering around campus with their “wingmen” or the people more formally known as their friends.

The non-lad struggles with university nights out as Freshers commences, the togas come out and the non-LAD begins to sweat. He wonders what kind of fresh hell he has entered. Why stumble out of your favourite nightclub at 2am in nothing less than a bed sheet wrapped around your torso?

And when Freshers has finally finished the wrong way hat brigade is still out in the streets offering leaflets to their one word, three syllables named club night. The LAD will often engage in conversation and build a relationship so their over-expensive VIP reputation can be held in tact for future events. Whilst this conversation continues the inferior non-LAD does his best to avoid eye-contact with the leaflet bearing macho men.

Not that my university is any different to anyone’s but the small size of the campus means that interaction with the LAD is natural on a daily basis, and at one point I looked forward to hearing about how many girls they may have “necked” last night, but now I’m coming to the latter stages of my degree and early stages of adulthood (YEAH, FREEDOM) I look for more stimulating conversation about art or even politics.

This isn’t a complaint about LAD culture, no, it’s a cry for help. If you’re a LAD, think of your fellow non-LAD, don’t ask him if he’s gay (we get that a lot) ask him something interesting. He may even go to Nando’s with you if all goes well.

An open letter to Hollywood.

Dear Hollywood,

Why are you spoiling the wonderful and illustrious art form of film? Years and years of history are now being deemed, literally, a complete waste of time. Why are you making shoddy remakes of films such as Ghostbusters, Jumanji and completely pillaging the Marvel franchise?

I’m a student, I love films, I love lying in bed, writing the day off and watching them until my eyes see lights when I close them. But this lazy approach to films is burdening me with sheer distaste for the art form. The latest film I watched was a Zach Braff film ‘Wish I Was Here’. I like Zach Braff, he’s very good at what he does. I actually liked the film, too. Not because it was an independent but because it’s nothing I have seen before.

Why are films becoming awfully similar to one another? Where has the magic gone? What’s funny is the blockbuster comedy film ‘This Is The End’, which presumably made millions based on the cast alone, pointed fun at this. Your own minions are aware of your awful, bland recreations of films.

But this isn’t just affecting the American film industry. Franchises in England are now being absolutely pillaged for the sake of money and money alone. The Shane Meadows film This Is England, which was brilliant, undoubtedly a classic of its time, has now reached its third TV series. THIRD series. THREE series after the film. The film was brilliant. Admittedly at times the series hAS been moving. Brilliant? Absolutely not at all. Innovative? More like disinteresting.

The screen industry appears to be forgetting that they are an art form. Art evokes culture. But repeatedly shoving the same art down the masses of unbeknownst audience members = a regurgitated culture. The mad cow disease of culture. If we keep digesting the same culture constantly we will fail to have any real genuine pop culture movements. No wonder the last real pop culture movement in England was in the early 2000s spurred on by the indie-pop-guitar-music floor fillers like Franz Ferdinand’s Take Me Out.

I suppose you could say this is the next pop culture movement. The Movement in which everybody did all the same things and copied each other and virtuosos are shunned because they literally think outside of the box. Or would it be the cycle? Probably would be the cycle.

I digress, If you’re a student, like me, you will be familiar with how genuinely good their cult classics section is. Funnily enough, all these cult classics don’t have sequels or prequels; some of them aren’t even made from books. Most of them are just films, organically made films.

Hollywood, have you ever heard the saying “If it isn’t broke don’t fix it?”. PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, STOP FIXING THINGS.

Sincerely,

Every film lover there is out there.

“Look at my Snapchat story”

Since the age of 16 I’ve always had a job. It all started with labouring for my friend’s dad, but once I realised I was awful at it I got myself a job in the catering sector. A sector of work which, for the most part, I thoroughly enjoy working in. You’re always meeting new people, having conversations and with staff turnover, making new friends every couple of months – it’s actually really rewarding at times, too.

But you know what does my head in massively, amidst all the people asking for a booth, or just being a bit shitty? It’s seeing couples who have came, assuming they’re happy (not always the case, I witnessed a break-up not so long ago), to spend some time together and generally enjoy each other’s company, to just sit there on their phone s the whole time. In fact, the most contact one may see them having is when their food arrives, they look up make brief eye contact and proceed to eat their meals. W H Y ARE YOU TOGETHER?

But this is not something I hate watching happen between couples, I hate seeing it full stop. Why is it that in this day and age that even when taking part in a social event, people feel the need to constantly check their social media to see what is going on? When, you know, they could actually be socialising with their friend that is literally right there, right in front of them. But then again, I say this as if their friend themselves isn’t on their phone. It’s massively frustrating.

Now don’t get me wrong I too indulge in the world of social media, I thoroughly used to enjoy telling people what I’m up to, until I realised, that unless it’s funny at your own expense, nobody gives a shit. But I digress, my point is, why is it that people these days would rather tweet about what they’re doing than actually do it.

The worst thing is, I myself saw the error of my ways and started to realise not only how stupid it is, but how just plain rude it is. I wonder, what if these people haven’t saw each other in years and in a way of reigniting an old friendship the meet up, and then just sit there on their phones the whole time. What even is the point?

What’s strange is the social convention of “One second sorry, I’ve got a text” – you’re saying that to a person that you are actually talking to at that moment in time, so really shouldn’t you finish your conversation and then continue the conversation you’re having via text? I’m ashamed that looking back upon the great generations before us and possibly after us, there will be us, the true grey area. People will call us the Snapchat generation; the generation that were just really fucking rude.

We’re vegetarians, not arseholes.

You know what’s really infuriating; the extreme vegans and vegetarians attacking people who eat meat but are doing their bit for animal rights. In the newest breach of animal rights which has seen Cecil the Lion unfortunately trophy hunted by Walter Palmer an American dentist, English comedian, Ricky Gervais has spoken up and used his fame for a worthwhile cause.

The issue is, Vegetarians and Vegans everywhere don’t like this. Why? Because Ricky Gervais eats meat. Seriously? This massive celebrity is doing his bit for a cause you truly believe in, gathering genuine followers and propelling it into the mainstream – something which has never really been done – and you’re complaining about it because he eats meat.

Now, don’t get me wrong I get that it is somewhat hypocritical for someone who eats meat to point the finger. But it doesn’t make his point obsolete. Trophy hunting is an awful sport, the fact that humans hunt animals for nothing other than for the pleasure of it is not only cruel but it’s also just a bit weird. Like why would you want to do that? The weirdest part is, those animals that are hunted down are sedated days earlier to make it easier – so really there is no point. Other than to fill your own head with false pretences of how dominant you really are.

This, like Fox Hunting, has been going on for years. Fortunately one of them is banned. With all things there is a natural opposite and that would be the likes of Vegetarians and Vegans protesting against this form of hunting with the use of the organisation PETA. But most of the time it’s to no avail. Now though there is a genuinely big personality spearheading our cause and you want to shoot him down.

The ironic thing is, he’s not even campaigning against eating meat, he’s campaigning against trophy hunting. Trophy hunting. I’m not saying that he is doing this to help us: he’s doing it for a genuine cause, our cause. Being vegetarian doesn’t give any of us the right to shoot down anyone who is a meat eater. If people join our cause, cool. If not, then if they’re helping us, what’s the problem?

Obviously we would all like to live in a world of vegetarians so that the wonderful species that live among us could live in peace. But we don’t, eating meat doesn’t make someone evil, it just means they have chosen a different lifestyle than us, something we don’t have any control over.

Ricky Gervais being a meat eater doesn’t make his point obsolete, it makes it hypocritical at most. We’re vegetarians, not arseholes.

Owen Jones – The Establishment

After reading David Mitchell’s latest book I decided to turn my focus to something a little heavier and having found that Mitchell’s satirical humour had wet my appetite for expanding my interest in politics I decided that The Establishment by Owen Jones would be a good choice.

I had bought the book a while back from a shop on Brick Lane and had attempted to read it twice before but struggled to properly get a grasp of the book. This was through no fault of Jones’ writing but my lack of attention span and to be quite frank knowledge on the subject.

That all being said I found the best approach would be to tackle it head on and start by doing it chapter by chapter, day by day, so that I could get a proper hold of what Jones was truly trying to convey. My own persistence and patience with the text, as well as myself, paid off.

Something that is done very well in this book is Jones’ way of taking a very complex issue and taking it completely apart so that even readers like myself can too create an understanding of the issues within modern day politics.

The idea itself of there being an “Establishment” isn’t too far from one that I was brought up with myself, but what this book does is take it from being an idea and makes it a fact. With the facts presented in front of you as plain as day, it is genuinely hard not to get progressively angry at society.

As a left-leaning writer, people often assume that by reading, consuming and digesting his work will result in you being brainwashed with left-wing propaganda. But this book is different, he does mostly comment on how the right/ far-right/ elite work together to rig society and reap the rewards but it is weighted and he does show some of the major drawbacks of new labour.

After reading The Establishment, I would say I am more aware of the drawbacks in society, but I am also very angry. There is no control from below the elite to over throw, all we have to hold on to is the opportunity to protest. Saddening as it is, the conclusion of The Establishment makes it clear that we are not all alone.

“House Every Weekend”

I often wonder what it is that makes house music so popular amongst the generation of teens of which I am part of. Thankfully for my mother, I do not let myself indulge in such an aggressively growing drug fuelled culture. But with the legacy of the hacienda well and truly behind British pop culture why is it now that it has spawned in the southern regions and became the least respectable “scene” amongst all the other naff “scenes” in modern music?

Where did it all begin? With the meteoric rise of the two brothers that make the house music duo Disclosure, the scene formed an alliance with almost every English teenager. After this, the shallow record label executives that are currently the strong staples in the music industry spotted somewhere that they could make money and decided to exploit it.

This then manifested into almost every single club having their dingy basement room rented out to the local house DJ so everyone and their mum could enjoy a line of MDMA and get sweaty with their friends. But my point isn’t actually against house music, for the most part I like it. Some of it sounds the same, though.

My point is, why is it that everyone who actively listens to it is almost all of the time a twat? Why have they got so much bravado? The scene itself has as much longevity in it as one of them stupid vines of someone “vaping”. I mean where is the individuality amongst the male demographic of listeners? You step into a club now and you will be overthrown by the ridiculous amount of 90s shell suits and well to be quite frank drug sweats.

Why do they all wear snap backs backwards?.. Inside? Hats, particularly, are an outdoor accessory and you see that flap at the front? Believe it or not that’s meant to keep the sun out of your eyes! Fancy that! I watched a Steve Jobs biopic once where Ashton Kutcher, as part of the role, wore a pair of New Balances, these shoes were once at some point or another related to a visionary, a genius, someone who completely changed the way the world thought. Now, they’re associated with some sport science studying, shuffling wanker whose biggest hero are the club promoters who stand in the freezing cold to earn a minimum wage.

What’s surprising is that clubs with absolutely no regard for anything other than making a profit allow this to happen; these clubs are more than aware of what’s going on but allow it to happen in the name of money – which just exacerbates the issue. Maybe they’re all up their own arse because they can get away with it?

Is house music cool? Probably not. I challenge anyone to go and stand in the middle of one of these dance-floors and spot the difference in songs. They’re all the same. This scene is a flash in the pan. Stop getting so excited.

Thinking About It Only Makes It Worse could actually be worse

MitchellD-ThinkingAboutItOnlyMakesItWorse_thumb

As far as my career as a reader goes, well it doesn’t, I do enjoy a good comical read. As I was looking to take a break from my current read of Lorrie Moore’s wonderfully comical and dark collection of short stories in Bark I decided I needed something satirical, human and incredibly witty.

The book opens with a brief summation of the current state of the UK from the financial issues through to the current government and how they are, to be quite frank, a shower of shite.

The book picks all the “worst” things in the country and pulls them apart to affirm the fact that thinking about does only make it worse. The way Mitchell makes a mockery of even the smallest of details of pop culture itself is fascinating.

Something that will particularly resonate with the reader is how human it all is. The way in which Mitchell will express some fairly complex political issues but dumbs them down for even the dimmest of readers is almost impeccable.

The closing paragraphs even offer a jest about how books are often made so the author can sell more of their original trade as he jokingly puts “Maybe I should have talked about the Peep Show more.” That being said, during his rants it’s hard not to hear the voice of his beloved character Mark Corrigan whilst he makes his points clear in his own sarcastic way.

Mitchell’s intellect also means that whilst reading his book you will learn a few things, often about economics, sometimes about the monarch, but mostly about History and some of the bitesize facts he will throw in for good measure. Thinking About It Only Makes It Worse is perfect for the every day Private Eye reader; it’s the perfectly weighted and easily digestible snippets of writing that makes it not only an easy read but something worthwhile.

(NEW RELEASE) The Balcony

So it’s been a long time coming. A band I have followed, enjoyed watching live countless time and even felt a sense of pride in whilst watching them grow.

It was almost two years ago that I watched these guys for third time supporting The 1975 and in my review I said that both The 1975 and Catfish and The Bottlemen have stardom waiting for them.

How right I was.

In excitement for The Balcony I read previews, a lot of people seem to dislike what they have heard of the album. One review even claimed this sort of thing was “out-dated”.

How wrong they were.

Opening song Homesick was fittingly the first single off the album to be released, a song that sums up the album within the opening minute, it’s melodic, heartfelt and then becomes explosive.

Second track Kathleen’s opening riff holds as much importance to the noughties guitar music that Franz Ferdinand’s “floorfiller” Take Me Out once did. This song truly showed the turning of the band when it was released and for me personally does nothing but proves their worth.

Third track, Cocoon, opening again with a full on bashing of a chord, pointed out by vocalist Van McCann as being stolen from Bartender and The Thief – Stereophonics is nothing but a worthy reference. The energy from this song is simply reckless, like a Wrecking Ball (minus Miley Cyrus, sadly). Lyrically audacious, the simplicity yet heartfelt sentiment is surprisingly poignant.

Fourth track, Fallout, surprisingly my least favourite from the album, not that it’s a bad song, it’s quite the opposite. It just seems to lack the same kind of umph that the other singles had, however the obscure lyrics at the end see I was a test tube baby that’s why nobody gets me/ see I struggle to sleep at night but it’s fine she doesn’t let me – are not only probably the weirdest lyrics I’ve heard in a while but are actually probably the best.

Fifth track, the wavey yet powerful, Pacifier, what seems to be a live recording (I could be wrong) makes sense, there’s a certain drive behind this song that can only be captured by watching or hearing it be played live – it’s particularly louder that way.

The softest moment of the album comes in the form of the song, Hourglass. With lyrics that only testosterone filled 16 year old boys would understand this song speaks to all the right people, and much like an Ogre, under the hard exterior (the almost unnecessary swearing) this song is truly quite beautiful.

The two tracks Business and 26 resemble that of a very early Editors, the down beat minimalistic guitar accompanied by the dark lyrics with an upbeat chorus in Business shadow that of tracks such as All Sparks.

The same can be said about 26, the explosive opening takes you way back to the likes of Escape The Nest – Editors. However, it lacks the insecurities evident in those songs, in fact it boasts confidence. They know what they’re doing and they have no shame in hiding how well they’re actually doing it. There is undoubtedly a certain type of “New York swagger” about this song and it appears that even after all of this time they have still stayed true to their original sound.

Next track Rango, is an even fatter version of what was released as the single, but still just as brilliant. The lyrics in this song particularly appear to be Van McCann at his best; the middle-eight is stripped back and a true pleasure to listen to. This is by far the best song on the album.

The two most important tracks on this album are Sidewinder and Tyrants. Sidewinder has been a solid one in their Set List every time I have seen them. Truthfully, almost like a fine wine it gets better with age and after this album has finally reached the masses, which it will, they will be drinking nothing but the finest of wines. (I needn’t review Tyrants, it explains itself, like a fine tin of Ronseal.)

They’ve proven those reviews wrong, guitar music is not dead, it has only been reinvigorated by this wonderful debut album. It’s full of energy like a young hungry Sunday league team.

Well done, lads.

10/10

10 years of “…Is a Real Boy”.

The year was 2008. I was thirteen years old, had a terrible taste in fashion, an obsession with coffee, a strange passion for the comedy show Scrubs and an even stranger passion for Sarah Chalke (she was/ is fine).

Anyway, it was a Sunday morning and I was nearing the end of my Scrubs marathon, I had almost polished off all 8 series, I got to the last episode, the one in which holds one of my favourite scenes in modern television.

After about two series of will they won’t they JD (Zach Braff) and Elliot (Sarah Chalke) finally kiss. None of this holds any real relevance, but in the background of this scene, I heard a song.

This song was beautiful, powerful, lyrically poignant, and just brilliant.

The song turned out to be Alive With The Glory of Love by the band Say Anything.

Now, strictly speaking, there aren’t many albums that spring to mind when I think of brilliance. Especially in terms of studio debuts.

However, …Is a Real Boy, was an album I instantly fell in love with.

From the punk-rock demeanour in the opening song, Belt, to the heartfelt charm in, I Want To Know Your Plans, the album is pretty fucking unreal.

The lyrical mastermind of Max Bemis gained the band many plaudits; he was even considered the next Bob Dylan at one point.

But for me this debut album is more than just lyrically sophisticated, the guitars in every track are just amazing.

They say once you’ve listened to an album once, every other time you listen to it you’ll hear new things. I haven’t found this to be apparent until this album.

For example, in the song Yellow Cat (Slash) Red Cat, there are so many things going on that you’re almost sucked in to the mind-set of which Max Bemis was in at the time of recording.

It’s been well documented that Max Bemis almost drove himself to clinical insanity whilst recording the album.

So it’s no surprise that in songs like Woe, he shares his insecurities in one-liners such as; she took pity on me horizontally/ oh most likely because of my band, or after working his fingers to the bone for the album at the end of Admit It!!! He is literally screaming; when I’m dead/ I’ll rest.

There are very few albums that still mean as much to me at the age of 18 that they did when I was 14.

But every time I play …Is a Real Boy, I find myself getting excited about the next song again.

…Is a Real Boy, introduced Max Bemis and Say Anything to the world and began what has been an illustrious career. After all, he has about four side projects and his own collection of comic books.

Well done to the pioneer of American indie-rock, and happy birthday to the album that changed my life.

Take – Two Glass Horses (New Release)

From the ashes of the band that were Midnight Playground, come a new band and another fine export from Liverpool; Two Glass Horses.

With no need of an introduction the song starts immediately, with a thunderous riff but an ever so gentle lead guitar riff over the top.

But as soon as you think you have the band pinned down, the whole mood of the song changes, with a difference in timing as well as rhythm, the song then jumps into another styling.

This time an ascending riff, with very large sounding distorted tones, to then welcome you into the chorus.

Now, the choruses of Midnight Playground’s songs always started gentle to then take you into a huge riff ridden explosion of sounds. That is a trait that I’m very glad to hear has remained in their song-writing formula.

Take, is a song that puts you through your paces. An ever-changing backdrop of moods that are portrayed by the guitar riffs used.

Take some time and give them a listen here, you shan’t be disappointed;