The cultured teenager

the best of literature, film and music, shown through my rather short-sighted eyes

Monthly Archives: July 2011

All balls in the air

I read. A pretty simple comment, but I’m a very sad lonesome child and therefore do properly read, currently reading five different books. But there is nothing quite like reading the last twenty pages of a book you have been so immersed in that outsiders would think you were on a hunger strike. Whenever I read a Nick Hornby novel I become so consumed I finish it by the next day, and don’t stop thinking about it until his next novels in my hand. Not that long ago I recommended Fever Pitch to a friend, who then replied, “I don’t read books about football”. I am still confused to why I didn’t punch her in the face; “ITS NOT JUST A BOOK ABOUT FOOTBALL, YOU DAFT COW!”. I’m a good English student (sorry for blowing on my own trumpet), targeted an A at A-level; I’m not a ten year old who only reads a book because it has a pop-art picture of a teenager doing an overhead kick on the front. If she had just read the first couple of pages she would have realised how wrong her original opinion was; yes, football is the major theme, but Hornby uses football to convey his emotions and opinions of society rather than telling a story to amuse primary school children. Football’s part in the novel is more or less to cement the idea of how integral it was to British society between 1968 (his teenage years) to 1992 (his adult years at the end of the book), although his passion for the game is often a curtain for his emotions surrounding relationships, whether family or girlfriends.

It is also significant that the book ends in 1992, where the sport became ‘Americanised’, becoming the Premier League and therefore a commercial enterprise worth millions of pounds rather than a cultural experience, which is how Hornby presents his addiction to the game. The novel is based around key Arsenal matches which show Hornby how football fits into his existence as he searches for the purpose of his life. This is an often witty and always heart-warming tale which is worth a read, footy fans and the unconverted alike, and if you are the stubborn cow who thinks reading anything related to football is a waste of time, well, I pity you because you’re missing out on a great book. Regards 🙂


3 great new bands for the week

1.) YUCK: I’m one of a growing number of fans who have been caught by the fuzz. Their ‘sound’ shows a revival of grunge and early 90’s college-dorm alt. rock, however with surprisingly catchy pop-style choruses. To simply categorize Yuck as the next not-that-successful grunge band would be idiotic, as their heartbreaking and endearing music sounds completely different to the Class of 91, although it contains a variety of familiar elements. Once broken down, you can here basslines reminiscent of early Pixies as well as Sonic Youth style snaking riffs, which combine to produce an effortlessly complete and surprisingly neat album. Please enjoy my personal favourite from their debut album, The Wall by Yuck

2.) TOM VEK: As some may have realised, I am using the term ‘new’ loosely, as Vek first appeared about 6 years ago, however I was none-the-wiser at the the time and also, slightly more significantly, 11 years old. On his latest album, “Leisure Seizure”, Vek hits you with his satisfyingly beefy sound, appearing to me as a 21st century David Byrne making music for stylised, cultured people in their mid-thirties who live in fashionable apartments and read NME. Monsieur Vek also has a timelss, perfectly produced lead single in the form of ‘A chore’, which has a warmth and jerky rhythm-attack that leaves you nodding your head until you get moderate whiplash. Listen and hopefully enjoy the beautiful melatron sound that is, A Chore by Tom Vek

3.)BRENDAN BENSON: Again, this isn’t exactly new, having produced the amazingly good ‘Lapalco’ in 2002, however this time I was eight. I have known and loved him for a few years now, however I have only just been immersed in the sheer brilliance of his solo material, having previously adored him as part of Jack White’s other band, The Raconteurs. I’ve been listening to his first album over and over again; it has a masterful comfort that makes me sing along, even during the first time I hear one of his songs. His songs are a sweet reminder that the singer-songwriter doesn’t have as irritating as Jack Johnson, but can actually have some sort of panache and be slick and sardonic, leading to the irrepressible addiction to ‘Lapalco’. I hope you enjoy this much as I do, Tiny Spark by Brendon Benson

Those are my recommendations of what to listen to over the next week, and hopefully you will enjoy these bands as much as I do. Every week I will do a top 3, varying between books, films, TV and music, and hopefully you may discover your new favourite band. Regards 🙂

Why do you wear that stupid bunny suit?

Probably my favourite film containing a bunny called Frank. And for those who have not yet seen the darkly funny ‘Donnie Darko’ I urge you to do so now, unless you aim to lose people’s respect. The main character, Donnie, obviously, is one I can compare to myself in few ways; I’m not quite as mentally disturbed as he is nor particularly similar in appearance, however his distorted vision of what is around him causes me to question my own perception of what is really happening around me. I don’t expect an ominous monologue from a demonic-looking rabbit who sounds suspiciously similar to James Duval, however I feel someone ought to do similar and reach into my only slightly disturbed and sadistic world, grab me by the scruff of the neck, and shout down my throat, “Just look at whats happening around you!”. There should be an epiphany similar to this looming, because somewhere there is a jet engine hurtling towards me that I’m not aware of. It also causes the always irritating idea of fate to get back into the conversation, however this is probably as irrelevant, or even wrong as numerous other ideas within the film, including the only slightly noticeable wormholes. I do have a vague belief in fate, but as long as I can convince myself that I control my decision making and be spontaneous, I will be a happy bunny. OBOE! Was it fate that caused me write that? No, if fate exists I still have spontaneity although I was always going to be spontaneous.

Anyway, I ought to give this post a shove back to its original topic. Back to Donnie Darko, it also leads to the question of freedom concerning your actions, whether or not you are manipulated into doing deeds unknown to your conscience. The series of crimes commited by Donnie cause me to laugh, whether that is the sadistic side of me or the fact these are commanded by mysterious talking rabbit. Nonetheless the shifts in tone, from misery and realism to dark humour allow a variety of intriguing characters come to the forefront; one notable example being Patrick Swayze’s motivational guru. It is definitely a superb film, however has no distinctive genre; rather a merging of several, including psychological thriller, coming of age drama and a moving romance, but it is not the variety of themes and questions raised by it which cause it to be so vivid in my mind, but is its striking images, performances and surreal yet dark mood (which was a highlight due to clever choices of music such as Joy Division and Tears for Fears). To close, I hope you can now see that none of us are actually the centre of an elaborate fantasy, however as long as we amuse ourselves with such exhilirating fantasy worlds we can convince ourselves that we are the ones that everybody else revolves around. Regards 🙂

The intimidating first post

I’m already ideas a-plenty of what to write about, but lets kick off with a classic album. Every post, will basically be me advertising one thing wedged in my head encompassing the best of many forms of culture. Music, is probably the one though which makes me moan the most, but also squeal like the little girl we all become when something so awe-inspiringly brilliant finds us. This divine album I will be making a promotion of is utterly different to most things I like, possibly making it memorable and therefore addictive. If someone told me to listen to some Rock’n’roll crossed with acid house and gospel I would intentionally hate it, but Primal Scream, show music as the art-form it is, as shown from the ever-psychedelic ‘Screameadelica’. I only listened to them a few times until recently, when I saw that they were playing Glastonbury, as I was one of the smug sods there, who go on about how amazing the live music was rather than wading through two foot deep mud/excrement. This led to me discover this fudging amazing album; an album is only amazing if so good you don’t notice the naff songs, however in this case they are mostly naff songs but produced exquisitely by Andrew Weatherall. No it didn’t change music for ever, but reignited British dance music with the druggy optimism of the early 60’s; although it was written by ecstasy-fueled Glaswegians, it produced some epic (horrible word, but it is perfectly suitable) songs, despite my non-existence at the time, showed the “blissed-out brilliance that perfectly sums up the mood of the early 90’s”. To finish with, here is an amazing performance that I was both lucky enough and willing enough to spend £200 on a series of gigs, to have the good fortune of witnessing live. Regards and please enjoy Come Together by Primal Scream, live at Glastonbury

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