The Fart Effect.

27 02 2010

I just farted. And then directly after that for some reason I thought about the split second that the Big Bang happened and the Universe began unravelling and existing in all directions at impossible speeds. Over the next 13.5 billion years countless galaxies and stars formed and died. Planets were created and destroyed. Earth formed, water became and landmasses broke apart and connected in an endless dance of creation. Life formed and evolved; humans arrived, towns were formed, people were killed, cities grew and gloves were invented. Then I, Glen Matthew Huscroft of England, Earth, at that one specific moment, farted. That is one fucking big Rube Goldberg Machine, and my fart was just a simple cog in the great contraption. But, for a brief second, creation itself had lead to that very moment.


The Importance of being Locke

22 05 2009

Good and evil has always been a prominent theme throughout Lost. From the opening episode of the show, the theme has prominently been symbolised using black and white. At the centre of this in the season 5 finale was John Locke, a man who has pure faith in the island. Locke himself represents good, or white: “I looked into the eye of this island… and what I saw was beautiful”, “It looked like a beautiful bright light”. Flocke (Fake-Locke, the seemingly evil man opposing Jacob in the opening scene of the Season 5 finale who is using Johns body) as Locke represents evil , or black. Little did we know from season 1 that Locke would be a character torn between both sides. Not literally John, but his body and image. Obviously the signs were there throughout the latter half of season 5. Upon resurrection we all noticed that Locke was a changed man — he appeared almost arrogant; as if he knew more than he should and more than he was letting on. But the signs that Locke would one day be used as a pawn between good and evil were present way before season 5.

Locke explains a lot more than backgammon

“Two players, two sides. One is light… and one is dark”. Never has this scene been more important. The lines were previously blurred between what or who was white and what or who was black. Widmore? Dharma? The Others? Now we have 2 central figures — Jacob and Flocke — and inbetween them Locke, used as a pawn by Flocke to kill Jacob. The next time black and white becomes prominent in the show is again a scene with Locke.

Locke has a black eye

He appears in Claires dream with one black eye and one white eye in Season 1’s “Raised by Another”. Little did we know that this could indeed nod to a direct and literal split in Locke, the white eye representing the real John and the black eye referencing Flocke. What is perhaps more interesting in this scene is that Locke is dealing out tarot cards which are traditionally used to read a persons future… Listen to the noise made when Locke deals the first Tarot card. A knife being unsheathed. The importance of a knife to John has always been what we thought was a simple urge to hunt. But it seems Flockes plan was somewhat ingrained into Lockes destiny from birth…

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Which of these things belongs to you John?“. The correct answer was, of course, the compass. It literally belonged to Locke, he gave it to Richard merely 2 years prior. But young Locke chooses the knife. Again, possibly a sign of things to come. Lockes ultimate destiny was always set in stone. Whatever happens happens. The knife represents Johns dark side… Flocke. The tool ultimately used to bring Jacobs life to an end. It isn’t literally John of course, but Lockes body is ultimately destined to play out that role.  This early connection with the island and his ultimate destiny is present in this scene again by the presence of the smoke monster in young Lockes wall drawings.

This brings us to the final early prominent black and white imagery…

"Bring me the eyes of John Locke and I will give you your... saviour"

Adam and Eve. The nickname given by Locke to the two bodies found in the caves in season 1. Found in a pouch alongside the two bodies is one black stone and one white stone. In the past, I’ve always theorised that Adam and Eve would be a major couple on the show — Rose and Bernard, Jack and Kate, Desmond and Penny. After the season 5 finale, I think it has to be mythologically bigger than that. One possibility that just sprung to mind is that the bodies are BOTH Locke. Imagine, if you will, that Flocke is killed in season 6 as the form of John Locke. One good Locke and one bad — black and white. These are the two bodies found in season 1 and it gives the stones more relevance than ever. This would bring the entire black and white symbolism and Lockes relevance to it full circle. The main problem with this theory is that the bodies have been decaying for approx 50 years by Jacks estimates. Having said that if any show can have two bodies present in 2007 somehow buried in 1954 it’s Lost. Locke just seems to be heavily involved with the black and white imagery and while it isn’t technically Locke who hands the knife to Ben, the events are certainly foreshadowed throughout Lockes life. Regardless of who the two bodies are, this black and white imagery culminated in the season 5 finale with two distinct parties, Jacob and his opposition. The man responsible for Lockes downfall and the man who ultimately becomes (F)Locke. Black and White.

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13 03 2009

I guess for the majority of my time as a young adult I’ve been an agnostic. I think in the back of my head I’ve always been an Atheist, I’ve just been scared to admit it — not to the public, but to myself. It is true that religion can be a great comfort and there is little I fear more than my inevitable none-existence after death. That may make religious folk feel superior having that comfort and their “knowledge” that they will exist after death, but regardless, I would rather not believe a lie just to make myself feel better. I wouldn’t want to be told that my favourite sports team has won the game if they had in fact lost. I hate most sports, but anyway, the point is that I am more content during my life as an atheist, even if that means letting go of the concept of an afterlife. Regardless, I think that everybody, even Christians, fear death so lol @ dat.

I am way too lazy to type out an entire argument against God because I have nobody to debate with on a blog and I’d be repeating myself having had such debates before both on and offline. It is probably my favourite internet debate not only because the existence of God is probably the biggest question of all time but because it often brings forth some of the best and the worst and certainly the most stupid of people. So In this blog post, I am going to post excerpts of my arguments and debates from various forums because, as I said, I’m too lazy to entirely write them out again. I’ll likely repeat myself here too as I’ve said similar things to numerous people on multiple forums.

If anybody is curious as to why I turned “full Atheist” the answer is simply that due to the advent of the internet, debates like this can exist more openly and I can readily seek out knowledge and answers. The success of people such as Richard Dawkins not only helps to cement my stance but they actively made me think about the subject, and not vaguely dismiss it in my head. A lot of my arguments probably seem Dawkins-like because, well, they make sense. And he is the one that made me logically think and conclude that God very likely doesn’t exist which is, believe it or not, quite a radical change in ones mind from “God might exist”.

The first time I entered a religious thread, it was more tongue-in-cheek if anything. There was no real debate I was just having fun with the question. The question posed by the thread starter was:

If there was a God, what would be the first question you’d ask him after you passed?” to which I replied:

I’d say “Hey God, why are you such a vague bastard? I understand that you need to be believed, which takes faith and not proof, but in this modern world of science a belief in you seems more than ridiculous. That does not make us Atheists evil, but logical, so why deny yourself to be a part of our lives; instead hoping that we will seek you, a guy whom the existence of appears to be literally preposterous. I understand that by your terribly dated and unfair “rules” I am to be sent to my eternal torture for simply having an open mind, so I’d just like to know why you not only hide your existence from us, leaving behind the worlds poorest sign in the form of a book of fairy tales, but also give us no reason to have faith in you — living in a world full of pain and anguish caused largely through religious and natural acts which surely could be prevented by your “good” self (I’d say that last part sarcastically and ironically as an omnipotent God would know of my sarcastic intent)”.

I would then refuse to ask for forgiveness as I have done nothing morally wrong, and instead ask for him to ask me for forgiveness. I’d then explain that I would have asked for forgiveness, but an omnipotent God would see through my plastic begging as a simple way to try and blag my way into Heaven. I’d use ‘please‘ and ‘thank you‘ to show him my well mannered ways, and explain that I actually bought CD’s and DVD’s despite my collection of pirated material. I’d then apologise for wasting his time by talking as he already knows what I’m going to say and then I’d inquire about how many forgiven rapists have repented their way into Heaven while I sit and talk semantics. I’d ask how he could possibly be talking to all of the other people that have just died — there could not possibly be a queue, it would be never ending. At this point I will have re-convinced myself that this whole thing is absolutely ludicrous, full of whimsical pre-science smoke and mirrors and that even as a story or fairy tale, it is a bad one. I’d kick God in the balls and wake up from my dream, or, if I’m in some sort of coma, I’d probably run away giggling. If I’m dead, then this wouldn’t have happened unless it is some sort of reaction in my brain to my death before it finally shuts down (similar to the scientific reasoning for “seeing the light”). At this point I will fade out and re-enter the state I once was before my parents conceived me. It is a presently sad and empty state to think about, being nothing at all, but an unfortunately inevitable one. As comforting as the thought of an after life may seem, comfort does not provide logic or proof, so I’ll unfortunately have to stick with the hard, cold truth. Bugger.

As I said, this didn’t — and wasn’t intended to — spark debate. The replies ranged from “That was beautiful icon_cry.gif” to “WINRAR”.

The second question I came across was a thread asking,

What evidence is there that one [a god] doesnt exist?” to which I replied:

It is totally all on you to prove that he does exist. You are claiming his existence, not me, therefore I have to prove nothing. If I tell you that there is a Unicorn orbiting the planet right now, it is not your job to prove to me that there isn’t one. Logic tells you that there isn’t; it’s a given. It’s my job to prove to you that there really is one. Christianity — which is about as believable as an orbiting Unicorn — must be proven to be true by the people that believe. They’re you’re claims, not mine. So tell me, why does God exist and why is it that you believe in a Christian God and not Zeus, Thor or Allah? Had you been brought up anywhere else in the world, you’d be believing in a different God, so doesn’t that tell you that your God is part of a societal tradition and heritage and not a belief through pure faith?

Another poster followed up with,

After a long discussion with a friend of mine (who was agnostic), he said that since I didn’t say 100% positive that God doesn’t exist, that would therefore make me an agnostic. My cousin, who’s an atheist, agreed with what my friend said. So that was always my standard for the difference between atheism and agnosticism.” to which I replied:

You can never 100% prove that something doesn’t exist. If nobody has ever seen it, all we can say is that it is really likely that something doesn’t exist. Nobody can say that Fairies and Unicorns 100% don’t exist, but that isn’t a basis for believing in them, nor to even think “they might exist” (Are you Unicorn Agnostic?). It is simply easier to assume that they do not, as the likelihood of them existing is so tiny. If you don’t believe in God because you really think it’s very unlikely that there is one then you are an Atheist. If you don’t know if you believe or not because you don’t feel that there is enough evidence either way, you are an agnostic. But like I’ve said, there will never be evidence that will totally disprove the existence of a fairy, but to be fairy agnostic seems silly — “of course they don’t exist. They’re made up in stories“. Well, Atheists feel the same way about religion. An almighty God? Prayer? Miracles? Just as ridiculous as a fairy.

Somebody then asked, “God doesn’t exist? And yet, no one knows what caused the Big Bang!” to which I replied:

God has been used to explain a lot of things throughout history, from Earthquakes to the weather. It makes absolutely no sense to get to a point where we are stumped (what caused the Big Bang?) tothen just say “… it must have been God“. It’s not only lazy to fill sciences gaps with God, it is an insult to the science and theory.

Not to mention that if the Big Bang is so complex that it could only have began with a God, then that God would have to be even more complex than that which he created. What created him? If you just assume God is infinite, then why can’t we assume that the Universe is also infinite? Is there some sort of rule that only Gods can be infinite and capable of creation? Why can’t the Universe be on a constant expanding/collapsing cycle. Which is more rational to assume? Certainly not the existence of an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, benevolent deity. And why did it take an all-powerful God 6 days to create the Earth? I’m not impressed.

An actual debater then stepped up, not just somebody who asked a question but didn’t have the capacity to reply to my answers.

Sorry, but i have to bring up a technicality on this burden of proof business that always ticks me off: if somebody is making a definite statement that “God does not exist” they are making a positive claim (which is not agnosticism, btw). They are making a definite statement. As such these people do hold a burden of proof. Therefore, if you maintain that “God does not exist” you have just as much of a burden to prove your statement as a theist does in saying “God does exist”. The only possible negative statement in this case is the statement of “i don’t know”. Anything that falls either side of that is an assertion of a belief and therefore a positive claim.

It really irks me when atheists claim they don’t hold any burden of proof while claiming that god does not exist. It’s completely illogical.” to which I replied:

No. The claim “God does not exist” did not spring out of nowhere. It is a direct reply to the idea that “God does exist”. The claim is based on disproving Christianity. So it is the job of Christianity to prove that God does exist, not our job to prove otherwise. If it wasn’t for religion, the debate wouldn’t exist and there would be no “God does not exist” point of view. It is the opposing view created in response to the claims of your text. Since it is a statement in response to something, it is not our job to prove or disprove the original statement; “A god exists”, it is your job to prove that your statement holds weight.

The logic you are using could be used against anything. Purple Panda’s from the planet Clitoris do not exist. Well of course they  don’t, and the burden is not on me to disprove them. If somebody claimed such a thing existed, it would be entirely up to them to prove that and not up to the rest of the world to prove otherwise.

He replied with:

I never said it was up to the rest of the world to prove theists wrong. All i’ve said is that if hard-lined atheists wish their claims to be taken as absolute fact they need to prove said claims. The fact that the proof of their claims would negate the existence of god is incidental.” to which I replied:

Actually, you’d have trouble finding many Atheists claim that his or her claims are fact, and that God 100% does not exist. If that makes everybody Agnostic, so be it. It, like everything, comes down to likelihood. Like fairies and Unicorns, we cannot prove that God does not exist, but like God the likelihood of them existing is so slim that a belief in them, or even an agnostic stance, seems silly. Why is the existence of God unlikely? Well, there isn’t a shred of evidence supporting the claims of any religion. The ideas, morals and stories in the bible are those of simpler times and are terribly dated. Christianity picks and chooses which parts of the religion they choose to follow. They follow a set of man-made rules and morals, using nicely picked out text from a book to justify it and ignoring anything in the book which makes them uncomfortable.

The idea of a God and his abilities has no foundation or logic in any kind of scientific way. Atheists have for years tried to explain things purely with science. They have made vast steps over the last century or two with the theories of Evolution and the Big Bang which take us one step further to fully understanding a Godless universe and for it to legitimately make sense. We haven’t created baseless ideas, child-like fairy tales and beliefs stemming from nothing but pure faith likely based on your country/family heritage and upbringing. And that’s without even mentioning the fact that there are dozens of God‘s and religions with absolutely no indication nor evidence as to which is a one true God or the correct path. Again, blind faith dependent on which country you are brought up in and your race.

So, while I cannot tell you that God does not exist, nor prove it to you, I can show you using facts and logic how likely it is that he doesn’t and how a belief in a Godless universe is not only possible, but logical and likely.

He then ended the debate by saying that he understood and respected my point but disagreed.

I think this post is long enough as is. That was a selection from one forum and I could easily go on. I haven’t even touched on the people that think we have no morals and that evolution is a lie. Maybe I’ll keep those for a post in the future.

Streaming media to the Xbox 360 from Windows 7.

6 03 2009

Edit: Before I start this post I would just like to point out that the new Windows 7 beta, version 7057, has fully fixed this error. Streaming works perfectly. The best thing to do would be to upgrade to that newer version. Your current Windows 7 beta code will still activate it. If you don’t want to upgrade or can’t and are sticking with Windows 7 7000 and want to try and fix streaming, continue with the post…

I haven’t really done a tutorial or anything like this before, but this has been bugging me and my housemates for a good while and after multiple searches I haven’t once came across a fix. Today I successfully streamed my AVI files from my Windows 7 beta computer to my Xbox 360 without the use of Windows Media Centre which, on the Xbox 360, is about as fast as an asthmatic slug with a salt hat. It also suffers from frequent freezing, crashing and audio sync issues. In Vista, this was not an issue. Windows Media Player 11 allowed the streaming of most media files to be played straight from the 360 dashboard. In Windows 7 however this was limited to WMV and MPEG files leaving the aforementioned 360 Media Centre as the only option.

Since nothing has changed on the 360 and I couldn’t see how it could be an issue with the Windows 7 architecture, the problem had to be the new Windows Media Player 12 beta. It’s sharing system is slightly different, and being a beta it is bound to have issues anyway. Unfortunately the standard Windows Media 11 download is not built for Windows 7. After quite a bit of searching I found a hacked Windows Media Player 11 which is designed to work for Windows 7. I should also note that while this worked flawlessly for me it didn’t work for my housemate, so it isn’t a guaranteed fix. He is, however, no worse off than he was so it’s at very least worth a try unless you have a great passion for the 12th incarnation of WMP and a vast hatred for the 11th (…they’re virtually identical). Before continuing with my tutorial, I will post an alternative method which is much easier to try out which I recommend thanks to a comment from TomestoneX. You can do this with your current version of Windows Media Player 12 that comes with Windows 7.

1. Add media to your library. Right click the ‘Video’ section of the library in the list to the left and add the folders containing your files or alternatively click ‘Organise’ – ‘Manage Libraries’ – ‘Video’ and add your media containing folders there.

2. Allow streaming by clicking ‘Stream’ and then ‘More streaming options’. Enable streaming if it asks, find the 360 in the list and click ‘Customise’ then instead of having ‘Default’ selected, select ‘Make all of the media in my library available to this device’.

3. It should be working now but just to be sure find all of the folders on the computer you want to share manually, right click on them, then ‘properties’ then the ‘sharing’ tab and click the ‘Share…’ button. Select ‘Everyone’ from the drop down list, then click ‘Add’ and ‘Share’. Do this for every folder you wish to share.

If this method doesn’t work, then try my method which is a bit more lengthy and will result in you replacing Windows Media Player 12 with Windows Media Player 11.

This only appears to work on the 32 bit versions of Windows 7 and will replace WMP12 with WMP11.

1. Firstly download Windows Media Player 11 for Windows 7.

2. Secondly, type services.msc into the start bar search, right click and open as administrator.

3. Find ‘Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service‘, right click and ‘Stop’.

3.5. The next step involves taking ownership of several files. This can be an unnecessarily long procedure in Windows 7 so you may want to install this ‘Take Ownership’ registry entry which will allow you to take ownership of files and folders by right clicking on them and clicking the new ‘Take Ownership’ menu button. If that doesn’t work, try this ‘Take Control’ program. These are not necessary but they’ll certainly help to speed up the process.

4. Take Ownership of the following files:

All files in “Program Files\Windows Media Player\” folder

All Files starting with “wmp” in the “Windows\System32\” folder
And wmploc.dll.mui in “Windows\System32\en-us\” folder

5. Now install the previously downloaded ‘Windows Media Player 11 for windows 7‘ but don’t restart upon completion of installation.

6. Type RegEdit into the start menu search, right click and open as administrator. Delete the following registry key: “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\MediaPlayer\Setup\Installed Versions”. As always it is better to have a backup of your registry before tampering with it.

This next step may not be necessary, but it is something I did and it’s always nice to have anyway.

7. Download and install the ‘Windows 7 Codec Pack’.

8. Restart your computer and voila!

You should all know these next steps if you’ve shared media previously via Vista, but for people completely new to this…

Open up Windows Media Player 11 and add all of your media to the library. Right click ‘Library’ and click ‘Media Sharing’. Make sure your Xbox 360 and any other device you want to share with is allowed. If your 360 isn’t there, turn it on and make sure it’s connected to the network.

Find any folders on your system with media you want to share. Right click on the folder and click properties. Click ‘Sharing’ and then ‘Share…’. Select ‘Everyone’ from the drop down list and click ‘Add’ followed by ‘Share’. This folder will now be shared with the 360 and should appear in the ‘Video’ section of the dashboard/NXE. Do this for all folders you wish to share.

If your computer is not appearing on your 360, make sure to turn ‘Media Sharing’ on in the ‘Network and Sharing Centre’.

Hope this helps!

Top 15 Albums of 2008

20 12 2008

I’ve had a list brewing for a while but I’m going to attempt to put them into an order now. My top 5 has changed almost on a daily basis but I think I’m settled now. I may do a similar post for movies and games, but I still have about 20 movies I want to see and my Christmas list is full of games so I’ll wait. Anyway, here goes…

15.  M83 – Saturdays = Youth

M83 - Saturdays = Youth

This album is full of ethereal soundscapes and shoegaze epics swathed in pop melodies and fused with an 80’s twinge. When it works, it’s innovative and exciting. Luckily enough it works very well, very often and with zero pretension. A much needed dose of electronic music.

14. The Gaslight Anthem – The ’59 Sound

The Gaslight Anthem - The 59 Sound

The Gaslight Anthem - The '59 Sound

This band know exactly what they want, and they execute it perfectly. It’s good old fashioned punk, bellowed and emotional and the first new, true, retro-punk band to come along in a long while to perfectly hit those instantly killer choruses without it feeling old-hat, forced and limp.

13. MGMT – Oracular Spectacular

MGMT - Oracular Spectacular

MGMT - Oracular Spectacular

You could hear any one of the first 5 tracks of this album and think you’ve nailed their sound. Hear a second and there will be no doubt in your mind that this album is unpredictable. It is, however, always exciting, colourful and sublimely catchy. Perfect synth riffing, huge drums, and hypnotic, weightless refrains. The second half of the album doesn’t quite live up to the first, but it certainly never gets boring.

13. Los Campesinos! – Hold on Now, Youngster

Los Campesinos! - Hold on Now, Youngster

Los Campesinos! - Hold on Now, Youngster

It’s hard to hate Los Campesinos! but it’s easy to see why one might want to. Their song titles border pretension and the lead (male) singer’s voice can be gratingly obnoxious at times. But the songs for the most part are so fun, so full of hooks and wry, clever lyrics that it’s hard not to like them. Plus glockenspiels are awesome!

11. TV on the Radio – Dear Science

TV on the Radio - Dear Science

TV on the Radio - Dear Science

It’s hard to place this album. Funk, soul, electro, shoegaze… it does it all, and more. Bowie meets Prince, or so I read. That turns out to be quite fitting actually. The album is far more urgent, catchy and obvious than it’s predecessor and David Sitek again proves himself as a great producer. This is brilliant, intelligent music and hopefully the record that makes them as popular as they should be.

10. Metallica – Death Magnetic

10. Metallica - Death Magnetic

10. Metallica - Death Magnetic

This may seem like the odd one out on a list containing albums that will likely be on many best of 08 lists, but Metallica are one of the only remaining metal bands that I still listen to from my youth and I can’t help but get excited when they release a new record. It’s just as well then that this is the best thing they’ve produced since ’91’s self titled black album. It doesn’t quite capture the magic of their early material, but its chock full of fast, meaty riffs and hooks and I can’t help but feel relieved after St Anger. It also helps that they can still put on one of the best live shows ever (Leed’s Festival 08).

9. Laura Marling – Alas I Cannot Swim

9. Laura Marling - Alas I Cannot Swim

9. Laura Marling - Alas I Cannot Swim

I took interest in the album upon hearing that it was nominated for the mercury prize this year. Initially I was pretty underwhelmed, but slowly and surely the songs have matured in my mind. They’re understated and intimate, but genuinely great and charming. It’s unbelievable to think that she wrote the album before her 18th birthday. The combination of ‘Cross Your Fingers’ and ‘Crawled Out of the Sea’ is just pure bliss.

8. Sigur Rós – Með Suð í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust

8. Sigur Rós - Með Suð i Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust

8. Sigur Rós - Með Suð í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust

I was worried for Sigur Rós. 2005’s fantastic ‘Takk…’ saw their songs, particularly ‘Hoppípolla’, out in the open for the first time. From the BBC documentary ‘Planet Earth’ to ‘X-Factor’ and even ‘Match of the Day’. While that doesn’t take away from the fact that ‘Takk…’ was a fantastic record, it certainly destroyed a certain intimate charm. The songs were lost to the masses, mutated over time due largely to overplay and association. This typically unpronounceable album isn’t a return to their masterful alien soundscapes; but it still contains that epic, yet subtle, Sigur Ros sound. At times they even sound like a band; creating music that feels like a logical progression, organic and still so very ‘Sigur Ros‘. Songs like ‘Festival’ show that they’ve still got the power to create some of the best music of their career.

7. Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend

Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend

Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend

It’s always great to start off a year with such a bright, sunny pop album. Vampire Weekend scrape away the grit of Indie and Garage rock leaving behind the perfect melodies sun-dried in an African savanna. The album is so refreshing and uncomplicated and I dare anyone to not want to listen to it multiple times a day for months on end. It’s perfect selection of songs are some of the most playable and unpretentious in recent Indie memory.

6. Girl Talk – Feed the Animals

6. Girl Talk - Feed the Animals

6. Girl Talk - Feed the Animals

This is the party album. I’m not a huge mash-up fan; every so often I’ll find one with a nice idea which gets boring after a minute or two. This is not a new idea but Gregg Gillis (Girl Talk) combines literally dozens of songs from every genre possible to form single tracks; always changing, nearly always perfect and definitely always awesome. The album is not only going to have you picking the songs apart and grinning nonstop; it’ll have you dancing all night long. It’s the sheer abundance of associative combination’s and the pace that make this album oh so special. Gregg Gillis has created something entirely new, yet totally recognisable and then… he gave it away. Like Radiohead, he decided to allow the buyer to decide the price starting at absolutely nothing. Cheers.

5. Why? – Alopecia

5. Why? - Alopecia

5. Why? - Alopecia

I literally have no idea what genre this album is. It’s not hip-hop, nor electronica, nor indie or rock. Yet it is recognisably all of them without feeling like a lazy or forced attempt at merging genres. This was my first taste of Why? and unlike some other albums on this list, it immediately jumped out at me. Then the next track did the same in a whole other way. The album is full of great ideas, clever, beautiful and dark lyrics that jump out of the songs in ways other artists couldn’t dream of. Yet it all feels so laid back and effortless. Even better is the fact that the album grows stronger as it approached the end. Definitely a band I’m excited to hear more from and an album that I can re-play over and over without it ever feeling old.

4. Deerhunter – Microcastles

3. Deerhunter - Microcastles
4. Deerhunter – Microcastles

There’s a certain nonchalant beauty to the chiseled pop songs on this album. And it is definitely pop. Pop songs melting into noisy shoegaze, but never spiraling out of control; always just a few steps away from Sonic Youth. But no energy is lost; the song-writing is perfect, the melodies strong and there isn’t a single weak track. The title track in particular shows how well Bradford Cox can go from slow motion ballad, to a head first dive into a wall of fuzzy, airy guitar work and a thumping snare. Perfect noise-pop.

3. Portishead – Third

4. Portishead - Third

3. Portishead - Third

Believe it or not, this is my first time truly listening to Portishead. I’ve always been aware of them, and I’ve heard songs here and there but I’ve never gave a full album the time of day. This was probably not the place to start, but I can’t say I regret it. This album sounds modern and vintage. Electronic and organic. Beth Gibbons voice cuts through the gloom magnificently. At times the sound can be a bit much and in your face; the drums in ‘Machine Gun’, for example. But after a lengthy gestation period it all just makes sense. The album is just brilliant, brilliant stuff and I can’t wait to delve into their much earlier material.

2. Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes

2. Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes

2. Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes

For the longest while this album was top of my list. In many ways it still is top. The vocal harmonies are literally perfect, the folksy guitars and the effortless, timeless melodies are all classic. The album is the complete antithesis of mainstream indie, and the critical acclaim and hype surrounding a record like this shows just how far independent music has come forward. Albums like this should be pushed out of the underground. It is likely my most played record this year, never growing old. The melodies are just as rich, haunting and beautiful as the day I first heard them.

1. Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago

1. Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago

1. Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago

So then, my favourite album of the year. It was self-released in 2007, so for that reason it isn’t included on a lot of lists, but I only heard it after it’s official label release in 2008 so I’m allowing myself to use it; and I have to. I couldn’t not include it. Like Fleet Foxes, this album perfectly combines beautiful and haunting vocal melodies with folksy, acoustic guitar work. The album is a lot more intimate than Fleet Foxes effort, and this is the reason the album ultimately won out. This is the work of one man who sat alone in his father’s cabin in the woods for 3 cold months with old recording equipment and a few microphones. No studio, no producer, no session musicians. This is literally a one man band, in virtually every way. Is there something unique about that? No. Plenty of independent artists have released similar self-created efforts. But not many approach the quality and intimacy of this record. It isn’t technically brilliant. The setup is simple; its one guys layered vocal harmonies and his acoustic strumming as backing. There are bits and pieces added later; a flute on ‘Flume’ and horns on ‘For Emma’, but none of the isolation and intimacy are lost. The songs thrive on the ambience; so pretty, so beautiful, soulful and real that it’s hard not to fall in love with them. This album is literally a window to the soul. His diary in the rawest form possible.


4 12 2008

What better way to kick start my blog again than with a post about goats. A friend today stumbled me this picture of a goat:


I think the point of the image was to show how impressive it is that a mountain goat can climb such a sheer cliff, and the humour derived from the illusion that it is floating. But it got me thinking; what on Earth is this goat doing? What does it hope to achieve? What do any of these goats hope to achieve? I have seen a few goats traverse cliffs in my time thanks to Attenborough. Seriously, find a field. I know you’re a great climber and all but don’t bother risking your life, for what? A bit of moss on some Rock? Maybe you’re avoiding some predators. A bear, perhaps? Well tough fucking luck. You may be able to avoid bears and wolves in this spot, but your inability to move fast makes you perfect for a bit of cliff chucking. And that’s exactly what the Golden Eagle does. It throws goats off cliffs. So go find a nice field. Eat some grass. Sure, you’re in danger of being mauled by a bear but it’s better than literally living life on the edge (see what I did there). I’m sure anyone would rather be killed by a bear than by a bird. You’ll never live it down in the goat afterlife, assuming you’re a religious goat (I hear Atheism is rapidly spreading in the goat community). I’d also like to know when 1. goats became such great climbers and 2. they first decided this was a good idea.

“Hey… hey Billy, that’s the third mauling this week. I think we need to do something about this. I think we need to walk across that unnecessarily dangerous precipice”.

“That totally looks do-able. Let’s go for it!”.

Anyway, during my search for some goat related items for this post I came to realise just how diverse and brilliant goats are. I found a happy goat, some fainting goats, goats taking over Australia, goats that live in a tree, the sex position: Goat on a cliff and even a bloody talking goat.


Happy Birthday to me…

17 01 2008

OK, so it was my birthday two days ago but meh. Not much occured, really. I’m not celebrating it til the weekend. Being here at Uni, there’s not much to do aside from have a few drinks with a few friends, which I did. Watched Boogie Nights, which I love. Chest Brockwell… what a name! This weekend I’m going home. Going to get my presents off friends/family and go out on Saturday to celebrate, so I’ll probably update this after then, hopefully with some pictures. Aside from that, we’ve just been playing a bit of Rock Band really. Completed drum campaign on Hard (Suck on that, ‘Run To The Hills’) and I’m a fair bit through expert.

I need a hair cut.