Saturday, 26 June 2010

Top 20 Happy Songs: Ecstasy for the ears

Are the government’s tax increases getting you down? Is the BP oil spill making you blue? Have you run out of milk and only have cornflakes in the cupboard? Well download some of these shiny happy tunes and forget all of your troubles and cares…

1. Walking On Sunshine – Katrina And The Waves

I defy anyone not to jump around like a loon to this 80s classic. The. Happiest. Song. Ever.

2. Beer – Reel Big Fish

The perfect student anthem from the ska punk kings. Because an ice cold beer makes everything better right?

3. New Shoes – Paulo Nutini

It seems that its not just girls who know that a new pair of shoes solves everything. Although I’m guessing Paolo has never tried walking in a pair of five inch heels.

4. Twist And Shout – The Beatles

Originally by the Top Notes, this 60s tune was later covered by a little known Liverpudlian band and makes you just want to get up on a New York parade float and mime like Ferris Bueller

5. Wake Up Boo! – The Boo Radleys

Guaranteed to get you bouncing out of bed of a morning. Sorry, did I say morning? I meant afternoon of course.

6. Have A Nice Day – Stereophonics

Welsh rockers Stereophonics have turned that irritating American catchphrase into a chilled out masterpiece.

7. Don’t Stop Me Now – Queen

Voted ‘The Greatest Driving Song Ever’ by Top Gear viewers, this Queen hit will get you from 0 to 60 in no time at all. Best not to bust out the air guitar whilst behind the wheel though.

8. Star Girl – McFly

This happy tune has been played in space to wake up the astronauts on the NASA space station. I wonder if they found the ‘Uranus’ joke in the second verse as hilarious as I did.

9. Three Little Birds – Bob Marley

A chilled out reggae classic from everyone’s favourite Rasta. Kick back in the sunshine and relax man.

10. Dancing In The Street – David Bowie & Mick Jagger

The two musical geniuses collaborated for Monday hating hippy Bob Geldof’s little shindig, Live Aid. An international dance fest anthem and it raised loads of dosh for charity. What could be happier?

11. Feeling Good – Muse

This is just one of the many covers of the life-loving hit, but Matt Bellamy and co sure do a wonderful job.

12. Hey Ya – Outkast

This funky number from Andre 3000 and Big Boi has got us all shaking it like a Polaroid picture since 2003. Long may it continue.

13. I Gotta Feeling – The Black Eyed Peas

It was impossible to go into any club without hearing this number one smash hit last summer. Essential for any party playlist.

14. Make You Feel Better – Red Hot Chilli Peppers

If you’re feeling down then why not let LA’s masters of funk-rock cheer you up. Go on, you know you want to!

15. Two Princes – Spin Doctors

You may not recognise the name but give it a listen. A true 90s hit if ever I heard one.

16. Alright – Supergrass

The ultimate Britpop tune. You might also recognise this tune from the Smurf’s Go Pop album. Just me? Alrighty then.

17. Make Me Smile – Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel

Also covered by Duran Duran and Erasure, this sunny tune has been entertaining us every decade since the 70s.

18. Dancing In The Moonlight – Toploader

They may have been a bit of a one hit wonder band but what a hit it was. No camp fire is complete without it.

19. All Star – Smash Mouth

Whether you want to be an ‘all star’ or a ‘rock star’, these Californian rockers believe in you. Well, if it worked for Shrek

20. Send Me On My Way – Rusted Root

You may recognise this jolly tune from Matlida, or maybe Ice Age. Either way, it’s a brilliant slice of bluegrass rock and an excellent example of bongo drums at their best.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Album Review: My Dinosaur Life - Motion City Soundtrack

US geek rockers Motion City Soundtrack’s forth studio album is anything but prehistoric…

Brilliantly produced by Blink 182’s very own Mark Hoppus, whose presence can particularly be felt on the sombre ‘Skin & Bones’ and ‘The Weakends’, My Dinosaur Life is a pop-punk tour de force.

However, it’s the lyrical talent of lead man Justin Pierre that really makes this record stand out, with clever - and sometimes nerdy - pop-culture references and themes that any awkward teen will recognise. ‘Delirium’ serves as an anthem for the medicated generation, whilst ‘@!#?@!’ is one for all the grumpy ‘Kevin The Teenagers’ out there.

Those who fork out for the Deluxe Version of the album will also be treated to impressive ‘alternative versions’ of four album tracks plus two bonus tracks including ‘So Long Farewell’ the band’s admirable attempt at a ballad.

From the optimistic opening track ‘Worker Bee’ to the teenage angst soaked ‘Her Words Destroyed My Planet’ and ‘Disappear’, this album is the perfect soundtrack for ‘the best years of your life’.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Live Review: Blondie call in on Bournemouth

With bands such as AC/DC and Aerosmith returning to headline Download Festival last weekend and shoulder pads and denim back in the shops it seems that the 80s will always be in fashion. And tonight’s crowd at the O2 Academy couldn’t be more thrilled. Although there are a few bright young things present the majority are Blondie fans from the first time around, ready to get in touch with their youth.

Up first is Little Fish from Oxford. Although the set has its moments, the tracks mostly just blur into one and fail to win much reaction from the crowd. Vocalist Juju’s powerful voice and over enthusiastic stare are a little off putting and when she begins to have what appears to be psychotic breakdown during the aptly named ‘I’m Crazy’, the audience begin to scan the room for the nearest exit. However, the 80s feel of their music and the disco lighting help to set the mood for Debbie Harry and co.

Unsurprisingly, Miss Harry looks remarkable for a woman eligible for a free bus pass but tonight chooses to complete her look with sunglasses and a blonde wig. The band open with an unspectacular track taken from the new album and it isn’t until Harry utters “Hello Bournemouth, this is Blondie calling” and ‘Hanging On The Telephone’ kicks in that the room really comes to life. It’s crystal clear that most have turned up to hear the classics and so the first half of the set, although still full of Blondie magic, doesn’t really grab the crowd’s attention. And with Harry drinking a cup of tea and doing some slightly cringe-worthy dancing on stage, the whole thing gets off to a disappointing start.

However that is all blown out of the water once Harry removes her sunglasses and ‘Atomic’ comes crashing in. They begin to fire out hit after hit and each member of the band gets their moment to shine, with incredible guitar, bass, drum and keyboard solos littered throughout the set. 65 year old Harry still manages to pull off the ‘hip-hop’ element of Rapture, and ‘You’re Too Hot’ proves that she still oozes sex appeal. By the time ‘One Way Or Another’ comes around, she no longer needs to sing, with the crowd taking over vocalist duties for the chorus. A three song encore is the perfect end to the evening. ‘Picture This’ is followed by an impressive cover of Taio Cruz’s ‘Break You’re Heart’ which surprisingly, tonight’s middle aged crowd know all the words to. After hit single ‘Heart Of Glass’ Blondie leave the crowd with some of that late 70s/ early 80s nostalgia and hopefully both hips intact.

Friday, 18 June 2010

How Will Director Bring Olympics To Boyle?

Film director Danny Boyle has been chosen as the artistic director for the 2012 London Olympics opening ceremony. The British Oscar winner now has the daunting task of following the spectacular opener of the 2008 games in Beijing. So what can we expect for the grand opening of the games? Well, if any of Boyle’s film projects are anything to go by, here are some predictions…

· A well known sporting star dives into a giant toilet to retrieve the Olympic torch. Then once he has lit it, he uses the flame to cook up some heroin on a giant spoon before sharing it around the stadium. (Trainspotting, 1996)

· The British Olympic team are handed a map to the stadium by a crazy guy who then kills himself. They then run to the stadium in the style of a video game. Girl group All Saints also reform for the occasion and perform ‘Pure Shores’. (The Beach, 2000)

· Britain’s Olympic squad walks through a deserted London in hospital gowns. They reach the stadium to discover that all of the other country’s teams are zombies. They are then chased around the stadium for 28 minutes, trying to avoid being bitten. (28 Days Later, 2002)

· A massive bag of money is thrown into the stadium and the athletes begin to hand out the cash to the audience. The audience are then forced to use the Olympic torch to burn all of the money. (Millions, 2004)

· The Olympic flame is extinguished and a sporting personality must reignite it. However, the person who ignited it last year has returned to try to prevent them from carrying out their mission. A fight ensues and the torch is eventually lit but both of them die in the flames. (Sunshine, 2007)

· A sports star must beg on the streets of London before entering the Olympic stadium and answering a series of multiple choice questions linked to their adventures. They are then reunited with a childhood sweetheart and launch into a bollywood dance routine. (Slumdog Millionaire, 2008)

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Album Review: Vivarium - Twin Atlantic

Biffy Clyro’s little brother has arrived in the shape of Twin Atlantic

The four lads from Glasgow’s debut album Vivarium is packed full of strong vocals, powerful guitar and more sing-a-long moments than you could shake a stick at. From the huge force of ‘Old Grey Face’ to the beautiful ‘Better Weather’ this album has a lot to offer. It’s also refreshing to hear a strong accent as opposed to the usual whiney American persona many British bands adopt, an issue which happens to be covered in anthemic track ‘You’re Turning Into John Wayne’.

All of the tracks on the album would be right at home in big arenas, which goes some way to explaining why these Scots have previously supported such huge acts as Smashing Pumpkins, Funeral For A Friend and Lostprophets. And with another support slot for pop-punk giants Blink 182 coming up this year, Twin Atlantic could get pretty big, pretty quick. But if it doesn’t work out, they could always make a decent living as a Biffy Clyro tribute act.

I also recommend you check out the Innerpartysystem remix of ‘Human After All’ and the Skrillex version of ‘What Is Light, Where Is Laughter?’ Truly impressive stuff.

Live Review: Download Festival 2010

An army of rock fans of all ages descended on Donington Park on the 11th – 13th June, here are some of the highlights of a truly incredible line-up…


Them Crooked Vultures

As AC/DC had bought their own stage to Donington, the official main stage headline slot is left to Them Crooked Vultures. A supergroup consisting of Nirvana and Foo Fighters legend Dave Grohl, Josh Homme of Queens Of The Stone Age and John Paul Jones of the mighty Led Zeppelin is highly unlikely to be anything but … erm … well super really, and these gods of rock certainly don’t disappoint. It feels like a privilege to watch all three of these men play on stage together with a set that builds and builds to an incredible climax. The tracks taken from the band’s debut self-titled album are instant classics that manage to incorporate the magic from all of the member’s main projects. Alain Johannes has the daunting task of being the band’s guitarist for live shows but with an impressive CV that includes working with Queens Of The Stone Age, Chris Cornell and Spinerette, he has no problem entertaining the masses with an incredible guitar solo whilst the other three take a break. Despite being four years over the free bus pass age, John Paul Jones proves that he can still rock the keyboard as well as the bass, and unsurprisingly seems right at home playing to a huge crowd that spans generations.


For their fourth performance at Donington, it’s clear to see why Aussie rockers AC/DC brought their own stage. With their very own steam train and a huge walk way the band are ready to finish up the Friday of Download in style. After a short video of a speeding train (and lots of girls) the band launch straight into ‘Runaway Train’ and then the massive ‘Back In Black’. The band fire out all of the fan favourites to a crowd of varying ages – and breast sizes as made clear on the big screen during ‘The Jack’. As the show continues it becomes all about Angus as the band’s co-founder struts up and down the walkway and launches into a strip tease, removing his trademark school uniform to reveal some AC/DC boxers. Although it feels so very, very wrong watching a 55 year old strip, it’s hard to look away, even if it does almost kick-start the gag reflex. But it’s clear that the crowd love him as his guitar solo is cheered on for a slightly overdone 20 minutes during which he emerges from the crowd on a raised platform and is showered in confetti. After more hits including ‘Thunderstruck’ and ‘T.N.T’ plus another video of tanks, boats, planes and, yep you’ve guessed it, girls, the band welcome Rosie - a giant inflatable woman with breasts big enough to make Katie Price jealous – on stage for ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’. An incredible encore of ‘Highway To Hell’ and ‘Let There Be Rock’ that continues to get every single member of the crowd clapping and singing is rounded off with cannons and fireworks proving just why AC/DC are one the biggest selling bands in the world.


Cancer Bats

Canadian metalcore band Cancer Bats bring energy by the bucket load to the second stage on Saturday afternoon. Their raw power pleases the crowd but it’s clear that many of them are only there to hear their fierce cover of Beastie Boys hit ‘Sabotage’. Let’s hope this doesn’t become their downfall.

The Blackout

The six lads from Merthyr Tydfil, Wales have become seven for their return to Download this year. Joined by Phillip Jenkins from fellow Welsh band Kids In Glass Houses, the band now has two drummers as well as two lead singers, and this only serves to make them stronger than ever. Tracks from their latest album Best In Town are definite crowd pleasers, with mass sing-a-longs to ‘The Consequence’, but it’s the material from debut release We Are The Dynamite that really bring their set to life. Experts at entertaining a crowd, Sean Smith and Gavin Butler provide plenty of banter and bounce around the stage performing provocative acts with microphones. With giant inflatable hands with middle finger raised on stage, mass swearing from the crowd and a snippet of ‘Killing In The Name’, The Blackout serve as the perfect warm up to tonight’s headliners Rage Against The Machine.

Rage Against The Machine

The sheer popularity of Rage Against The Machine is proved when only minutes into their set they are forced to stop be security due to crushing at the barrier. But once lead man Zack De La Rocha has made sure everyone is safe, the band continue with a truly incredible show. Not many bands perform shows at which the crowd sing along to the instrumental intros of their songs but tonight’s massive crowd do just that when Rage launch into ‘Bombtrack’ and ‘Bulls On Parade’. Guitar magician Tom Morello’s performance is as mind blowing as ever and Zack is also on form with his usual political speeches and a big thank you for their Christmas number one success. The set feels a little disjointed at times but it all ties together with the mighty ‘Sleep Now In The Fire’, and an encore of the classic ‘Killing In The Name’ brings the evening to an explosive end.



It’s rare to hear of an American band trying to make it in the UK, but Switchfoot are trying to do just that. The rockers have been around since 1996 but only achieved success in their home country after appearing on the soundtrack of cheesy tear jerker A Walk To Remember. Signature track ‘Dare You To Move’ sparks mass swaying, but it’s not just the power ballads that these guys do well. Although the cover of Sabotage is not a patch on the Cancer Bats version, their anthemic rock is impressive and front man Jon Foreman certainly doesn’t lack charisma, choosing to spend most of the set in the crowd. There could be big things to come for these guys.

Napalm Death

A slightly odd choice to follow Switchfoot, grindcore gods Napalm Death crank things up with a furious whirlwind of guitars and death growls. After 30 years in the business, these Brummies, who hold the Guinness World Record for the shortest song, are showing no sign of slowing down.

The Damned Things

Mix a tablespoon of Fall Out Boy, a dash of Anthrax and a sprinkling of Every Time I Die and simmer for a few months. What do you get? Why, the latest super group to emerge from the US, The Damned Things of course! These guys manage to combine elements of all three of their original bands to create some classic heavy rock. If their Download performance is anything to go by, their debut album set to be released later this year has the potential to be huge.

The Dillinger Escape Plan

Mathcore legends The Dillinger Escape Plan bring the rain and the madness to Donington. Their brutal precision playing kicks starts an epic mosh pit and the guys from New Jersey treat the stage like one big climbing frame. A truly ferocious live performance.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Live Review: Rage Against The Machine Victory

The image of X Factor winner Joe McElderry’s face on a dart board held aloft by a fan in queue perfectly sums up just why he should stay as far away from Finsbury Park as possible on June 6th 2010. Any mention of Simon Cowell’s latest puppet’s name is met with mass booing and plenty of profanities as 40,000 Rage Against The Machine fans swamp the park in north London. This is RATM’s free victory gig to say thank you to the Great British public for getting their 1992 hit Killing In The Name to number one just in time for Christmas last year, after a campaign which showed just how powerful Facebook can be.

The support bands perfectly reflect RATMs genre busting back catalogue. London five-piece Gallows prove they can smash huge outdoor shows just as well as smaller venues. They power through their set of brutal punk rock sparking huge circle pits and an impressive wall of death, especially considering that they are the first of three support acts. Always good at motivating the crowd, lead man Frank Carter gets amongst the masses for a bit of Bieber banter and a mass ‘F*** You’ in true Rage style. An excellent cover of I Fought The Law once sung by The Clash continues the momentum and the band seem genuinely proud to be part of the occasion, with Carter regularly taking pictures of the gigantic crowd on his phone.

Roots Manuva and an impressive entourage switch the mood from mosh to dance with his fusion of hip-hop, dub and electronica. With an excellent bass player and DJ for company the South London rapper gets a good reaction from a crowd of rock fans, showing just why he has been in this business for 16 years.

Like something straight out of Eurovision, Gogol Bordello bring their gypsy punk to the stage and instantly install a party atmosphere. The group from New York complete with an accordion, violin and lots of impressive facial hair, certainly aren’t lacking in enthusiasm and, if the dancing throughout Finsbury Park is anything to go by, it seem to be infectious. When they leave the stage after an incredible set they appear to take the sunshine with them.

However, the clouds part again just in time for Simon Cowell himself (well, a cartoon version) to introduce ‘the world’s greatest rock and roll band’ – his words, not mine - and Zack De La Rocha and co crash straight into Testify. The fans’ reaction to the instantly recognisable intros of classics Bulls On Parade and Guerrilla Radio is immense and their chanting to Know Your Enemy and Township Rebellion show the dedication of Rage’s loyal followers. Tom Morello demonstrates his mind-blowing skill on guitar with several close-ups on the big screen but manages not to overdo it on the solos like many accomplished musicians. The huge power of Bullet In The Head sees enough jumping from Zack - as well as the crowd - to spark an earthquake and leave many fans without feeling in their toes.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a RATM gig without a political speech but Zack also take a moment to show his appreciation for the British music scene, before the band launch into White Riot by The Clash. Their years of touring mean that RATM know how to put a set list together, winding down the show with Sleep Now In The Fire and Freedom before applauding the crowd as they leave the stage. The encore is announced with quotes and newspaper headlines documenting The Rage Factor campaign and the band return with the knock out winning song Killing In The Name.

As the show ends, everyone leaves with the feeling that they have been part of rock music history, and although Simon was probably not bothered by the army of people wearing ‘Rage 1, Cowell 0’ t-shirts – as he was off winning a BAFTA that very evening – it certainly proved that rock can defeat manufactured pop, as well as scissors.

Interview: Dan Gold - Good As Gold?

Since appearing on reality TV show London Ink, Dan Gold has become one of Britain’s most well known tattoo artists. I caught up with the ‘bad boy of tattooing’ at this year’s Bournemouth Ink tattoo convention to talk homemade tattoo machines, going topless and Britney Spears…

When did you first become interested in tattooing?

I was always interested in tattooing. I remember my mum always said I was quite a weird child. We passed a tattoo shop when I was about five. I looked into the window and there was a picture of the Japanese Yakuza, who have their whole body tattooed. I said to my mum, when I grow up, don’t be scared, but I wanna look like that. So it must have been something that was quite deep inside of me. I started drawing pictures for my friends and took them to tattoo shops. Then one day the tattooist said ‘Dan, you can draw cant you?’ and I went ‘Yep’ and he says ‘Well, I’m gonna go and get drunk, so if anyone comes into the shop, just tattoo them’. I was like ‘What?!’. So I sat in the tattoo shop but luckily no one came in. I was shitting myself, thinking what the hell am I gonna do if someone comes in? But then I thought, this could be quite cool, why don’t I give it a go?

Back then it was very hard to get any kind of information about tattooing. So I ended up having to build my own tattoo machine out of old scalextric engines, my mum’s sewing machine foot pedal and some of my brother’s guitar strings. I’d seen a book about things that were smuggled into Russian prisons, there was a picture of a homemade tattoo machine so I built one myself from that and tried to tattoo myself. Which I realise was a stupid idea because it bloody hurt. So I thought the best thing I could do is actually to do it on other people. And I haven’t really looked back since.

You specialise in graffiti and robot tattoos, what got you into that particular style?

I was part of a big graffiti gang in Denmark when I grew up so since I was 12 I’ve been painting graffiti. That’s what made me want to become a tattooist, because I could never find anyone to do the tattoos that I wanted. I’ve tried to become the tattoo artist that I couldn’t find basically. I love robots, I love sci-fi. I’m a bit of a geek so its quite natural for me to do stuff like that. It’s the kind of art that I love.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of becoming a tattoo artist?

Don’t! No seriously, I think if you really want to be an artist you’ve got to think to yourself, ‘what can I give to the industry?’ It’s no good thinking I just want to do it because it seems cool. It’s a bloody hard job and there’s a lot more to it. It’s not glamorous as we try and make out it is. Tattooing involves a lot of cleaning and studying. But it’s also a lot of fun. It takes a long time. I’d say my apprentice would take about three years before I’d call him a tattooist. So if someone really wants to become a tattoo artist, they should find a shop, a good shop where there’s an artist that you really respect, build up a portfolio, take it there and then start an apprenticeship. I think the worst thing you can do is do it the way I did it and build your own machine and do it from home. Because it takes you so much longer to get to a point where you will probably have to unlearn most of the things that you’ve taught yourself because they are all wrong. And it’s not safe as well.

You were on London Ink, do you think the show has had a positive effect on the tattoo industry?

I think it’s great. There will always be people who slag it off. There seems to be people in this industry who want to keep it in the stone age and liked it when it was underground. But that was bullshit. I was around when it was underground and it wasn’t that great. At least now we get the respect that we deserve. The industry, the art form and the history of tattooing gets what it deserves. The programmes were obviously quite mainstream and they were never made for other tattooists. They were made for middle England, middle class people who didn’t know anything about tattooing. It was sort of an insight into the industry for them so that everyone can see what we’re doing. And it has definitely made everyone a lot busier, which they don’t seem to complain about.

Some people believe that it is possible to become addicted to tattoos. Would you agree with this?

Certainly, I only came in for one! Yea, it’s super addictive. It’s like going to the gym or getting plastic surgery. When you realise that you don’t actually have to accept what you are born with, you can change it and modify it, that in itself is a very addictive thing. I remember when I started out, I was quite shy about my body. I was quite insecure about it. I never liked going to the beach and taking my top off because I always felt that I wasn’t as muscly as the other guys. But I think now that I’ve got my tattoos, I’m proud of my own body and every time someone sees me they’re like ‘wow, that’s wicked!’ That has a positive effect on your confidence and the way you feel about yourself. I think that’s a healthy thing. And now if the sun is shining just a little bit, I’m already half naked. Or if there’s alcohol.

Obviously there’s a fine line and you should be careful. I’ve seen people get a lot of tattoos, especially facial tattoos, and then loose the plot a little bit because it’s almost like they’re trying to erase themselves. That’s a whole different territory. But if you get tattoos to try and make yourself feel better, then I think it’s a very positive thing. Out of all the addictions you can have, it’s one of the good ones. And it makes me rich, so I like it.

You have tattooed quite a lot of famous people including Kate Moss and Peaches Geldof, but who is your favourite person that you’ve tattooed?

I think it’s got to be Kate Moss, if you’re talking about the famous people. She was so sweet and she ended up tattooing me as well. We became quite good friends. To be honest, a lot of them have been a lot friendlier than I thought they would be. The only people that tend to be arseholes are the semi-famous people, like your Big Brother lot and X Factor musicians. When you get to tattoo them they’ve always got an attitude. But when you tattoo people who are really famous they are always quite nice and very polite. Like when Britney Spears came into the shop she offered to make a cup of tea for me and stuff. They are just really down to earth.

What are your plans for the near future?

To get very, very drunk. But that’s the very near future. Like the next 12 hours. No seriously, I hope to spend quite a lot of time in America in the future. And I’ve got a new shop in Liverpool with three artists working there. That’s going really well. Just enjoying life, enjoying what I’ve created and what I’ve done. Life is really good at the moment so I’m just trying to enjoy it as much as I can and not take anything for granted. We are also gonna try and do something on TV within the next year one way or another. But it’s difficult to get anything financed. Making those programmes is very expensive. I’m also planning to go out to Afghanistan for Help The Heroes charity. Maybe tattoo some troops out there.

See what else Bournemouth Ink had in store