Sunday, December 28, 2003

Review of reviews of the year

How's that for a post-modern conceit? Okay, it's not exactly Duchamp's Fountain, but it's a bloggy kinda thing to do.
First up The Observer...Distillers aside, it's hard to argue with Kitty Empire's Top Ten Albums - Dizee Rascall, Outkast, Gillian Welch, Super Furries, White Stripes, My Morning Jacket, The Rapture, Rufus Wainwright and Jay-Z. Her Turkey of the Year is Blur's Think Tank, which was the Observer Music Magazine's favourite of 2003. Beard is with Kitty on this one. It's a boring, boring record. Its much vaunted world music element amounts to little more than some vaguely ethnic percussion. Talking Heads or Combat Rock era Clash it ain't, despite the delusions of loyal fans.
Film critic and Rod Steiger lookalike Philip French used to introduce BBC2's Sunday Night films for a while. He's clearly a dude, and has seen far more obscure French and Japanese films than I ever will, so I can't argue with his choices.
As the theatre and comedy stuff is largely London-centric I'll decline to comment. The only comedian I went to see all year was Jeremy Hardy, who rambled, albeit very funnily, for two hours. The Fringe was really pricey, and I was on the dole at the time, so sue me.

I did take in some good plays though. The Sunday Herald dispatched me to Glasgow's Botanic Gardens to review A Midsummer Night's Dream. Set in a 1920s jazz club it had anachronistic songs (Fever, Dream A Little Dream) and amateurish dance routines. "A pleasant night out, but this is not great Shakespeare." I proclaimed. I'm proud to say my review didn't go up with all the others at the park gates.
The best thing I saw was Patrick Marber's Dealer's Choice at the Tron, which was a favourite of the Sherald's Andrew Burnet
Elswhere in the Sherald, Graham Virtue made Evan Dando's Baby I'm Bored his best album. It's nice to see big Ev (big Ev??) bouncing back with a lovely record, but album of the year? His number two is the Teenage Fanclub best of. Virtue is to be applauded for his TFC evangelism, but inlcuding a best of in your albums of the year is pushing it a bit. But I suppose that's the point. He's honest enought to suggest that Elephant isn't as good as White Blood Cells. Plenty of other good stuff - Outkast, Missy - and some odd choices; Martina Topley Bird's album is sadly no Maxinquaye.
I glanced at the Scotland and Sunday, which was fairly predictable. White Stripes etc.
Reviewing the music mags would take forever, so I'll just say that Mojo and Uncut had the most interesting lists, Q the dullest (suprise, surprise), while NME almost redeemed themselves by finding room for Cat Power and My Morning Jacket among the evil likes of Jet (Stereophonics with a few Iggy Pop albums).

Hey crazy kids - Beard's best of 2003 will be with you shortly

The Office

Oh my. That was beautiful.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Jack White police report

Those good people at the Smoking Gun have got hold of the Jack White/Jason Stollsteimer police report
The great indie soap opera continues...

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Merry Christmas

I'd like to wish everyone a merry christmas, chanukah and festivus.

May you drink and be merry.

(I should really quote some nice poetry here, but I'm far too lazy)

Love and peace to the late,great...Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash, Elliott Smith, Don Gibson, Warren Zevon, Nina Simone, Sam Phillips...

Saturday, December 20, 2003

Rave on Stirling Albion

The Binos were disgracefully knocked out of the CIS Cup by stinkin' Arbroath. Smelly smoked fish motherfuckers. The referee was appalling, turning a blind eye to the WWF manouvres of the Abroath players.

Other than that I simply have to say that The Replacements rule.

That's all for now.

Contact us:

Friday, December 19, 2003

Nick Kent's holding on for a hero

Nick Kent is a brilliant rock journalist (check out his collection the Dark Stuff), but there's a depressingly curmudgeonly tone to his article No more heroes in the Guardian today.
Perhaps the age of the Bowie-esque mercurial superstar is over, but if it's heroes you're after what about Wayne Coyne? Andre 3000? Missy Elliott, Howe Gelb?
I'm sure the Stooges did blow White Stripes and the Hives away at Coachella, but that's cos they're the fucking Stooges, not Van Morrison or Macca.
He acknowledges there have been fine records made this year, but mentions only a few. I'm not looking for an exhaustive list, but c'mon!
His comments on the music industry and depleted live scene are fair enough, but perhaps he could do with looking a bit harder into homegrown scenes across the UK before bemoaning the lack of an underground.

Postscript: Saw Sex Pistols documentary Filth and the Fury last night which contains a vintage interview with a wasted Nick Kent. Makes me appreciate his good stuff all the more. I'd thorougly recommend his review of Marquee Moon - makes you excited about the album even if you've heard it. It's in the Penguin book of rock writing, a fine collection.

Jack White goes ape!

Yikes! Jack White really is finding it harder to be a gentleman. What's happened to him? He's been dissing the Von Bondies for a while now. He ditched their guitarist, the lovely Marcie Bolen, for chipmunk cheeked freak Rennee Zellweger, and now he's kicking the shit out of the singer! What's going on Jack? Have those tight red 'n black trews blocked the blood supply to your brain?

And while I'm at it, Elephant really isn't that great. I'm not being wilfully obscure - it just doesn't hit me like their other albums. Seven Nation Army is awesome, Black Math is a great dumb riff, while You've Got Her In Your Pocket would make Alex Chilton proud, but the rest is good to middling to wack. That stupid squirrel song really sucks.

Anyway, wince at this. Old Jack's given poor Jason a real shiner

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Rock chocolate

A undoubted highlight of Beard #1 was Tom Dumbleton's genuine and righteous tribute to the mighty Manowar. I'll post it when I get the archive site up, but for now, why don't you check out the website of Tom's band, Glasgow metal titans Fractal Jack...

Get Fractal"

Shoeshine Records

Stew's down at the hop with Francis Macdonald... IDEASFACTORY Scotland - Glasgow Zone: Feature about Francis Macdonald

Online artist Dan Norton gets interactive

My first encounter with online art...

IDEASFACTORY Scotland - New Media Zone: Feature about Dan Norton

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Attended a web writing course with Channel 4 ideas factory yesterday. I wrote an interactive haiku. You really don't want to read it. Got me thinking about expanding beardblog to have a website with archived Beard articles.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Contact us:
News of Beard #2...

Our man in Texas, Neil Jaques, meets hell-raising country and crime fiction legend Kinky Friedman!!!

Our man at the movies, Paul McGarvey, on the art of bad film dialogue. With contributions from Chow Yun Fat, Ewan MacGregor and Rowdy Roddy Piper.

Neil Jaques discusses free love with lesbian goths Rock Bitch.

Neil Young's electro-rock folly Trans reappraised.

Stew's dad's esoteric and fiendishly difficult beard quiz.

Watch this space for more...

Monday, December 15, 2003

Welcome to Beardblog, the weblog from the creators of Beard, Scotland's finest music, arts and facial hair magazine.
The eagerly anticipated Beard #2, with its unique mix (er...) of interviews, features and reviews will appear early next year, but this blog means Beard can exist beyond its very occasional publication.
Beard was devised one drunken night by Stewart Smith and Neil Jaques, two post-grad journalism students eager to publish their own fanzine in Glasgow.
We'd seen some great fanzines in Glasgow (Chica, Cheery Bananas) but some stinkers too. Bad poetry, sub-Hicks/Chomsky/Moore political ranting, ugly cut n paste artwork, precious reviews, and interminable q & a pieces were all too common. Interesting interviews and features, sharp crit, clean layout were rare.
Incredibly, we actually got our act together and produced Beard #1 after our course ended. With features on Glasgow's Grand Ole opry and Danish anarchist commune Christiania, interviews with Mudhoney guitarist Steve Turner and the people behind Shoeshine Records, and much, much more, Beard #1 was a success.
I'll be starting as a reporter on the Alloa Advertiser soon, while Neil is is Dallas, Texas for the next few months. He's going to be coming up with all kinds of crazy stuff. Hopefully he can travel to Austin and track down Willie Nelson. I've been doing some writing for - more news when it's published. We'd also like to welcome a new executive member of the Beard team - Paul McGarvey.
With Beardblog you can follow the progress of issue 2, see what we think of the latest happenings and submit your own work for consideration.
I'll post some of Beard #1 on the site alongside previews of Beard #2.
Let's make this the best blog....ever!

Party on and be excellent to each other,