Monday, July 07, 2014

You won't beliEEve how fucking angry I am.

 Good evening,

I am writing to you today out of exasperation, frustration and fatigue. I have been an EE customer from the inception of the decision to become the deformed lovechild of T mobile and EE. From looking at my account, you will notice that I have rang up many, many times and generally regarding the same problem. However, for the now 5th time let me explain.
Essentially, my mobile phone does not function as a phone. More often than not I get it out to look at it and notice that I have 'no service'. After a while of waving the bloody thing around my head like a chimp throwing faeces I get a signal, usually followed by a number of notifications that I have missed calls and voice mail. Pretty irritating I'm sure you'll agree? Given these problems I would ring up EE and am either told that there is 'no problem' with service in my area (though if this was the case then surely my phone would be working) or, more commonly that there is 'on-going work going on in my area which is effecting some users'. Both of these are irritating outcomes, as essentially the party line from EE is frankly 'tough' and I am simply supposed to just accept that the company with the nation's best service cannot offer a resolution. Actually can I ask, who's idea is it to commission work in the middle of the bloody day? Can't this be done at night time?
As I write I have been thinking about how much time I have spent on the phone to EE...there's at least 10 calls, each probably no less than 30 minutes. That's 5 hours, that's nearly a working day! If I was to invoice someone for that time then I could by a Gaggia coffee maker.
I'm not asking for much, but right now. Right this second, my phone's internet connection isn't working and I have just had enough. Please, please allow me to end my contract with you without financial penalty. I can't listen to Paulo f***in' Nuitini or that Lumineers song any more.
If you want to talk to me I would suggest call me, but lets be honest...the network will probably be having problems, right?
Tiernan Welch

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The most disappointing band reunions, ever

As I sit here in my acid washed jeans, Doc Martin’s, oversized jumper and high peaked baseball cap I can’t help but think two things. One, my God I look like an insufferable prick and two, haven’t we seen this before...? The answer is yes. It was called the 90’s and it was a bleak time characterised by a Gulf War, a crippling recession and a relentless and out of touch conservative government. While the thought of this might seem beyond comprehension to us now in 2013, its influence is clear, especially with today’s music.

Regular readers will be aware that I am by no means a music fan and prefer New Balance to New Order, WH Smiths to the Smiths and Maoam to Duran Duran, however the never inaccurate Wikipedia reliably informs me that 90’s music was a time of convergent ‘alternative’ styles of music. From across the Atlantic we welcomed ‘grunge’; its pioneer Burt Cobain who was tragically lost during a gang related drive-by but his influence is far reaching and recognisable amongst popular acts such as the Foo Fighters. Meanwhile, the UK scene was exploding with a ‘Brit-pop’ shaped IED, Spearheaded by the likes of Oasis, Reef and Menswear, the 90’s were halcyon times cocaine on cornflakes, dating members of All-Saints and befriending Jimmy ‘five bellies’ all considered acceptable norms. But over time the ‘mod’ imitation haircuts grew out into ‘curtains’ and ‘undercuts’, and by the mid-point of the decade boy-bands were ten a penny. With music as infectious as their STI’s, young girls across the land were put into frenzies not seen since the Beatles, Slade or the Proclaimers. Such wholesomeness was characteristically followed by a full scale revolt and by the Coalchamber hoodie epidemic of ’99, nu-metal was all the rage. But these collective flames could only burn so brightly for so long and sadly the talent, momentum and most of all interest simply ran out.
Or so we thought…

History has been fairly consistent in reminding us that remakes, re-vamps and reunions have a tendency to be in the main, shit. Recent revisits to Star Wars, Indiana Jones, ITV’s ‘Catchphrase’ firmly back this up, and we can’t overlook the horrors of the Total Recall, Arthur, Italian Job, Halloween and Alfie remakes. But music is a different, somehow more personal and because of this some reunions don’t just damage the memory, but also the integrity and legacy which were once so precious. The past year saw Blur, Pulp and the inexplicably popular Primal Scream returning to the stage, but none came close the madness which accompanied the reunion of everyone’s default favourite band ‘The Stone Roses’ who come in fifth as my disappointing reunion. Fans flocked to catch a glimpse of the now literal ‘second coming’ and while I have no problem with them per sae, I also have no problem with magnolia, chicken korma or Nokia.

Reunions are big business and the Stone Roses were reported to make £10,000,000 for their recent live shows. Though not in the same league (but still obscene), the Libertines are also thought to have received a 1.5 million for their Reading and Leeds performances…which will buy you a hell of a lot of military jackets, Raybans and smack. The thing is, with falling CD sales, easy access to pirated material and streaming sites it’s easy to see why bands continue to return to now the densely populated scene. I mean, how else are these stars going to afford to put rocket fuel in their space ships…? But while money must be a motivating factor, it can’t be the only reason and we are often told that new tiurs and albums are ‘for the fans’. Indeed the recent Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath comebacks both proved incredibly popular with their huge international fan base as well as being tasteful and respectful to their catalogue. Therefore, with ‘metal’ in mind, the fourth most disappointing reunion has to go ‘Limp Bizkit’. 

While their return has been ultimately successful, it does somewhat undermine their very public and acrimonious split which culminated in guitarist Borlan going as far as to call his next musical output ‘Big dumb face’ - no doubt related the vast, stupid face of man-boy frontman, Fred Durst. While da Bizkit’s albums are certified meccas to cringiness, fans say that to fully appreciate their brutality they must be witnessed live, but then the same could be said for a murder. 

But the ‘real’ bands weren't the only ones enjoying the nostalgia-wagon and after the surprise success of professional waist-coast wearers ‘Take-That’, it was the time for other defunct manufactured bands to prove their worth. Fueled by a passion to be taken seriously, what better way to solidify integrity was there than to appear in ITV2’s reality show, ‘The Big Reunion’? The series saw many of the 1990’s ‘stars’ compete for a second chance at stardom and collectively they make up third position in my disappointment run down. Amongst the quagmire of double denim and repressed homosexuality was ‘Blue’, best remembered for their hit singles ‘All Rise’, ‘One Love’ and ‘Butchered at Birth’, as well as their unparalleled stupidity. But I guess it’s easy to be cynical about Blue, so long as no elephants are being harmed, eh? Self-styled boy-bands’ bad-boys ‘5ive’ added to the murky mix. Undeterred by the fact that the one who rapped decided not to join in, the band soldiered on as a 4 piece thereby entirely undermining their USP and indeed name. The aptly named disaster that was ‘911’ also featured, singing like angels but looking more like drug dealers and dog fighters than we remembered. It’s hard to say who the winner of the ‘Big Reunion’ is, both because I don’t know and as such a term seems a bit sarcastic.

Perhaps most controversial (by people who think that what bands choose to do of their own free will is news) surrounded the return of fair weather anarchists Rage Against the Machine. The 90’s was a time where ‘Rage’ ruled, and their idealistic world view and social commentary frequently found themselves tip-ex’d on many a 90’s teenagers’ ruck sack. However the 2008 X-Factor winners were heavily criticised, whether this was due to their lacklustre live sets or the fact that the nihilism of 20 years ago just felt forced or wasn’t relevant anymore, frankly I can’t say. I do however understand that similar feelings were evoked by the surprise reformations of At the Drive-in and Refused, who had both maintained that reunifications were ‘off the table’. This station is now profitable I suppose.

But no run down of crushing musical disappointment would be complete without mentioning the big ‘guns’. Fronted by archetypal rock blueprint Axl Rose, Guns ‘n Roses dominated the 80’s and 90’s and the band came to embody the spirit of very spirit of rock and roll. Axl (whose name is an anagram of Roal’s Ex) was such a badass that he had been known to go as far objectify women as well as use full four letter swear words in his lyrics. But after 2 top 10 singles and inclusion in the ‘One’s to watch’ 1986 things fell apart after Axl unceremoniously fell out with the other members of the band while on a Strepsil fueled temper tantrum. After a wilderness of seventeen years the much anticipated ‘Chinese Democracy’ was released, costing $10 million as well as every single other member of the band. The album, which universally uninspired, was supported by a vigorous and relentless touring schedule and Axl (who now resembling something between Mickey Rourke and a hot meat pie) promised that their live return would be every bit as exhilarating as the new album. He was right. Llive performances also came under fire for Axl’s aggression towards the audiences and consistent lateness, clearly unlike Rihanna and Justin Bieber the world’s greatest rock band just weren't ‘cool’ not cool enough to pull this off this level of tardiness. It’s not like people had waited 17 years or anything.

Perhaps I sound bitter, but not every comeback is ‘bad’. As I write I’ve just read that the ‘Through the Keyhole’ is to be remake and presented by one man 18-30’s holiday, Keith Lemmon. Also get excited kids, Shed 7 are said to be discussing their imminent return and while we’re at it I imagine it’s time to wheel out Dirty Den, Harold Bishop and Hulk Hogan. This said, while there’s life in some old dogs yet, I think the lesson here is that sometimes the memory of things are a better than the real thing. Others are simply best left in the past. Forgotten. Buried. Like Noel Edmunds.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Pirates of the sky

Ref: Ryanair Reservation XXXXXX

Mr Leary,

I genuinely prayed I would never have to write another letter to you, but sadly you have left me no choice. This is not a metaphor – you literally have given me no choice as I can’t locate a phone number or e-mail address (which I am sure contravenes trading standards policy…?). But let’s not get bogged down with such trivial matters when there is so much left to discuss with reference to my flight from East Midlands to Dublin on Wednesday 10th March 2013.

Let me begin, as with most tales of woe, at the beginning. My fiancée and I booked to fly one way to Dublin for the weekend. This would be an opportunity for her to visit a new city and catch up with my family before our upcoming nuptials and the flights were so cheap that we almost didn’t mind flying with Ryanair…despite it being at 06:30am.

Due to the early start we were forced to take a taxi, and while this was in every way our choice, it began a notable theme of the day which was to waste money - the amount of which I will now begin to tally (£30). We arrived at the airport in good time, just before 05:00am and given the large queues and my own apprehensions about waiting times, decided to ‘treat ourselves’ and bypass the other travellers by purchasing a Express pass each for boarding (£6).

Security, though frustrating went without a hitch and seeing that our flight had not been allocated a gate number we decided to relax with a coffee, a hot chocolate and a croissant (£5). You will observe from the attached receipt that the time of this was 05:46. We sat in the café with an eye on the LED screen above our heads and before long the screen indicated that our flight would be leaving through gate 3. Travelling to Ireland some 10 plus times per year I am familiar with the process which follows and to we patiently waited for the ‘proceed to gate’ notice to appear. Such a notice did not appear at 0615 our flight listing changed to ‘Final call’. While we were confused and frustrated by this notice we did not procrastinate and immediately began the short 60 second journey from Café Lavazza to gate 3.

On arrival at the gate I was surprised not to see a queue, or indeed any staff for that matter. When I did manage to speak to someone I was informed to my horror that flight had already boarded and was awaiting departure. Fortunately the plane was still in full view and given a ‘final boarding’ call had appeared not two minutes previously there was still time left to board. At this point we realised that we were not alone and another passenger was having a similar ordeal and tried to engage their dialogue. We were both to wait, which we did patiently 30 metres from the Boing 737 jet on the runway. A few more minutes passed but then the sense of relief I had gained combusted as door to the plane door closed.

I approached the staff member enquiring as to what was going on. She responded curtly telling me ‘the plane is ready for take-off’ as if I didn’t know how a plane worked. ‘And…’ I replied ‘does that mean we can’t board’? Sensing my frustration she replied defensively ‘the captain has done his final count and the door is shut, sir’. I failed to see the relevance of this point and enquired why they didn’t just open the door? ‘You can’t just open the door, sir’ she replied to which I retorted that I imagined that you probably could. At this point the stock responses and deflection and was told I was too late and that they close the gate 20 minutes before the flight is due to leave. I reminded the young lady that I was in fact there 20 minutes prior to the flight time, and had in fact been in the airport for over an hour and a half at this point.

You see Mr Leary; there is no conceivable way that I would wilfully book a plane ticket and travel to the airport simply to miss it. I might as well set my money on fire. Thus I believe that I am not at fault, but rather your airline and that the processes which indicate flight departure were either not followed this morning or done so in a sufficient way. The upshot of not being ‘allowed’ to fly was that my girlfriend and I have had to book other flights with you at a cost of £110 per person (£220). This process would perhaps not have been so awful were it not for the staff members on the Ryanair desk who, to put it bluntly, did not give a shit. They were rude, disinterested and unhelpful which given the events which brought us there took every fibre of my being to remain my composure – which I did.

The reasons for our journey, through arbitrary still hold relevance. You see, I could have been travelling for an interview, a wedding or even a funeral but this did not matter to your staff member who remained indignant and callous to the point of robotic. The intended purpose of our journey was to attend a premier in Dublin, thus the next scheduled flight from East Midlands was too late meaning we had to travel to Birminhgam airport involving a Skylink bus to Leicester (£12) followed by a coach to Birmingham (£24). It is on the coach to Birmingham that I write to you, the time is 9:56 and I have already spend close to £300 on a journey which initially was supposed to cost only £33.99. Writing is difficult, not because of the motion of the coach or the stench of the chemical toilet, but because of the sheer rage which is pulsing through my bones. I accept some human error, perhaps in the future I will never veer to far from the departure gate but it is not so much the missed flight which frustrates me today, as much as the sheer apathetic indifference offered by Ryanair staff. Today, before 7:00 am I had been deceived, oppressed and robbed by your airline and for all these reasons I expect to be refunded (as a minimum) for the costs of our ‘replacement’ flights which total £212 (there as an additional fee for the use of my credit card). Any payment method is fine.

Whether this letter gets lost amongst the myriad of other complaints is at present irrelevant to me as I will have satisfaction. I have already emailed the Citizens’ Advice Bureau, Watchdog and a number of bloggers with the details of my farcical morning and will continue to write to you until I receive a response which I deem satisfactory. Before I sign off I wish to reiterate the pertinent issues so that they can be clearly understood; I do not book flights to miss them. My partner and I were at the airport in plenty of time and, despite the fact you are not a ‘contact’ airline, there was no alert that the plane was boarding and you did not allow anytime following your final call. This, I would suggest, is not acceptable in large buildings such as airports.

You Ryanair, you are the pirates of the sky.


Tiernan Welch

Friday, March 22, 2013

Frolics, foals and perfect felony

Last night my phone was stolen while I was at a bar. In addition to having to be interviewed by the police here I have been informed by my insurance that in order to have a 'successful claim' I must provide an account of the events which must 'include as much detail as possible of the event' in support of my application...on top of a £100 excess fee.

Here is my account:

To whom it may concern,

Here is my account of the events that led to the theft of my phone on Thursday 21/03/13.

My girlfriend and I were having a pre-dinner drink at the ‘trendy’ ‘O-bar’ cocktail bar/bistro located on the Braunstone Gate part of the city. The time was roughly 19:30 and my phone was on the table in front of me as we had just been taking using it to take humorous pictures of ourselves using photos from ‘style’ magazines to obscure parts of our faces (the most successful by far being the lower part of Yannis from Foals’ grumpy little beardy face juxtaposed with my girlfriends’ delicate facial features). See below:

Its important I add that neither of us were intoxicated in any way, in fact this was our first and only drink - however midway through our merriment two males came in to the bar holding what appeared to be flyers. This was most unusual as the bar does not ‘welcome’ this sort of thing and there is a strict dress code enforced by bouncers who normally suss out potential criminals. The two men appeared to be from a South Asian origin, one roughly 5’9 and the other 5’6 (a more accurate description is available if required); they approached us holding said flyers feathered out like a large pack of cards – he was asking me to ‘buy one’ of these cards for 50p. Naturally I said I was not interested, but he insisted and in doing so got very close to me. So close in fact that he obscuring my vision of the table and allowed me to smell his musk of Joop. Fortunately for the pursuit for 'as much detail as possible' I am able to confirm that on closer inspection the flyers were for a World War 2 battle re-enactment that had occurred the previous October... 

But then as quick as they entered they left. Poof. My girlfriend and I looked at each other recognising the bizarreness of the situation before we stopped the two men through the large window as they (literally) skipped down the road.

Some twenty minutes later we got up to leave, I padded my pocket down and became aware I did not have my phone. I immediately realised what had happened…WE’D BEEN HAD. I immediately altered the manager  who was shocked and apologetic (he didn't offer us a drink for our nerves however) but assured me there was CCTV which he checked and confirmed the men were identifiable from their footage. Naturally I was quite upset and while I obviosly didn't cry or anything cause I'm hard I was discussing the events to loudly to another member of staff and while doing so girl I did not know overheard. She had been at another bar across the road and reported that two men had offered her flyer also. I asked if she had her phone, she laughed for a moment until she checked her bag and found that she too had been a victim. We both contacted the police who were busy and disinterested and advised that CCTV was available and the two suspects would likely still be in the area. I then cancelled my phone and went home, sad and feeling violated.

Yours sincerely,

Tiernan Welch

Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012: A year in music

As sang by Big Brother One’s Craig Phillips in ‘This Time Of Year’, publications and websites are awash with what they believe are the best records of 2012 and over here at The Monograph we are no different…
Well, I say no different however but some readers will know by now that I am not actually a fan of music and therefore have no idea what the best albums are. In fact I prefer Frankie and Benny’s to Frank Ocean, Alton Towers to Alt J and flying ants to Flying Lotus. So rather than provide any insight, I’m basing my top ten on the best-selling records this festive period (with figures supplied by MTV).
House-wife and prisoners’ favourite One Direction start the sexy run down with the tenth best-selling album this year – which isn’t bad considering that they’re not old enough to rent Robocop. Their album, ‘Up all night’, which refers playfully to the night when they couldn’t sleep because they ate too many sweets, has been a surprise hit both in the UK and across the Atlantic with 1D now rivalling the successes of other British exports including Vinny Jones, Mad cow disease and Piers Morgan. ‘Up all night’ is unquestionably the album that these kids have been waiting to make their whole career…their WHOLE career.
Paloma Faith inexplicably comes in at number nine this Christmas with her second album, ‘Fall to Grace’. The record, which is presumably about a small hat or the smell of something or other in Camden, is a transparent extension of her unique style and exuberance. Indeed, I could say that artists like Paloma Faith are the back-bone of the British music industry, but if I did I’d be a liar . At number eight is Rihanna who, like Paloma Faith, is a woman. Unlike Paloma Faith however, Rihanna is awesome and whilst her choice in men leaves a lot to be desired the huge selling ‘Talk that Talk’ proves she is able to both talk the talk and also walk the walk. You’re welcome.
jessie j Best (Selling) Records of 2012BBC ones’ ‘The Voice star’ and legendary outlaw Jessie ‘J’ James takes the seventh position with ‘Who you are’. The title suggests a delightful assertion of self and also the second part of what I would say to her if I met her…with the first part being ‘I don’t know’. In addition to being a successful music star Jesse J is also the world’s first bi-sexual which, according to the Guardian makes her somehow ‘sexuallyy valuable to young teens’.
Mumford and Sons (or their equally middle class moniker ‘M&S) are in at number six with ‘Babel’. In truth, this record isn’t actually as bad as I thought – it is in fact much, much worse. The album , which is the sonic equivalent of beige, is named after the Tower of Babel which was built by man to get to heaven. According to the Old Testament God then, skateboarded down it and made us all speak different languages for some reason.
Bombastic, bloated and lacking in any real substance, it is pretentious idiosyncrasies such as the name of their album which contribute to opinion of the band being so split. But why do they rile some many of us – is it because they are articulate, successful and dress like 19th chimney sweeps or just because of their crippling mediocrity.
Like Mumford and Sons, Ed Sheeran is perfect for people like me who don’t have the time, energy or inclination to find anything better.
Because Coldplay are popular no one likes them, making it pretty remarkable that they managed to sneak into my countdown with the fifth best-selling album of the year. Mylo Xyloto (pronounced ˈmaɪloʊ ˈzaɪlətoʊ’) is the eighteenth studio album from the Southend punk trio. The band’s tiringly reclusive and media shy Chris Martin describes the record as a concept album influenced by HBO’s ‘The Wire’ (seriously) and standout tracks include ‘Bunk’s rap’, ‘Stringer bell: Louder than Hell’ and ‘McNulty’s funky bunker’.
At five is Lana Del Rey, whose rise to fame is comparable to that of Lily Allen – but American and therefore better. Lana massed 20,000,000 views on YouTube before someone thought, ‘shit, I can make some money here’ and snapped her up. Since then, she has been popping up giving lacklustre and questionable performances of songs that sounded better as 15 second snippets on adverts. In fact, her performances have been the subject of much debate drawing criticism from people on the internet like me.
ed sheeran Best (Selling) Records of 2012Next up and probably a firm favourite of the sort of people who say things like ‘dot com’ in conversation after words like ‘tired’ and ‘annoyed’ is Ed Sheeran with the abstractly named ‘+’. Ed revolutionized the musical world in 2012, wowing fans by playing his guitar as a guitar, but also hitting it from time to time like a percussive instrument. So progressive is Ed that this year he did the world a huge favour by covering ‘All along the watchtower’ with ‘Devlin’ – a song which, I think we can all agree, that Jimi Hendrix never really nailed. Like Mumford and Sons, Ed Sheeran is perfect for people like me who don’t have the time, energy or inclination to find anything better – making him kind of like the frozen pizza choice of music.
Despite being released in 2011, Adele’s ‘21’ is still the second best-selling album of 2012 and I fully believe she has what it takes to be remembered alongside other British greats like Dido, Beverly Knight and Martine McCutcheon…if she plays her cards right. Just pipping Adele to number one this year is Emeli Sandé who, for some reason now uses her middle name as a stage name. Emeli shot to fame by contributing the tuneful bit in Chipmunk’s 2009 ‘Diamond Rings’; a song which remained his biggest hit until his untimely death in 2010 when he drowned in a tragic paddling pool accident. Unphased, Emile continued to assert herself on the heartless industry by contributing the singy bits to other rap messes from ‘Pro Green’, ‘Tinie Tempa’ and ‘Wiley’. Emile eventually came into her own earlier this year following the success of her single, ‘Next to me’ which is currently being sang by no less than 50 buskers as we speak.
What a year in music.

Friday, June 08, 2012

The future's shite, the future's orange

Good day,

It would appear that the future is in fact not so bright…

I have been a customer of orange since 'snake' was on your contract phones so forgive me if I seem a little bit frustrated by my own the disappointment at your consistently mediocre service and this most recent episode. Let me go back some time, I was delighted when I was phoned by a member of your staff and informed that I was able to upgrade my phone and, in early 2010 I decided that I too wanted to ignore friends and cheat in pub quizzes so opted for an iphone. At the time the iphone 4 had been out for a few months, however not being technically minded I was unable to see any real difference between the 4 model and the 3Gs (a mistake I have learned to regret) and, always mindful of further economic downturn, redundancy and an inherent need to be frugal I decided to take 3Gs phone on an 18 months contract. 

Eighteen months on and my phone was like a horse waiting to be shot; it wasn't soiling itself or anything but was lagging, sluggish and reluctant to work. Sadly it seemed best to put the old girl out of its misery and so it was a good job I was at the end of my 18 month contract...or at least this is what I thought. You can therefore imagine my disappointment when I was informed that, unbeknownst to me I had taken out a 2 year contract. At this stage I must ask why anyone would think I would take out such a lengthy contact on a phone which I knew would be obsolete but, as I was unable to prove otherwise (as I did could not locate my contract and for some reason you do not keep contracts) I made my peace with this additional plight.

Six long months on and my two years of service were finally up recently so, like a good boy I set off for the orange shop only to be informed that it wasn't ‘quite’ two years yet as I had been allowed to upgrade three months early on my last contract. Allowed you say? I would say I was advised, or perhaps more appropriately coerced so to say ‘allowed’ seemed a bit much. Anyway, I wasn't going to let this dampen my spirits - after all, this is new phone day! I’ll just upgrade early again - get me a 4Gs and then probably sell my old phone in a pawn shop and get drunk with the proceeds. The poor girl in the shop looks at me, her face says it all: ‘Sorry Sir, you can’t upgrade yet’. My head swells with a noxious mix of disappointment, frustration and downright fury. Why on earth not? What’s wrong this time? What did I ever do to you? She responds with clear embarrassment and informs me that ‘Orange have changed their contracts and they no longer allow early upgrades’.

This is where I get a little cross, you see I have been 'allowed' to upgrade early for the past 7 years. It was suggested to me in store that early upgrades were customer 'rewards', however we both know that it is merely a ploy to keep greedy customers in contract. Whether this is a contractual obligation, it is unquestionably become common practice and protocol and to simply go back on your own terms and promises is nothing short of lousy as well as reminiscent of a certain political coalition.

As it stands I believe that you have broken the terms of your contract with me and therefore I have decided that I no longer intend to adhere to my contract with you. Please respond with an acceptable response and explanation promptly or I will cancel my contract. Rest assured I will happily be taken to court with this. Or just let me bloody upgrade?

 Kind regards,


Saturday, November 26, 2011

A non-music fan's guide to 2011...a year in music

People’s obsession with music and the extent to which they will go to in order to satisfy their needs is inconceivable to me. I’m a very different kind of guy, and those of you who have already read my column will be aware that I prefer black comedies to Black Sabbath, new boxers to New Order and Britain’s Best Dish to British Sea Power. But since joining the Monograph and working among true fanatics and am no longer able to ignore your fascination, and even though I am unable to understand it, I am beginning to appreciate it…like the when Bill and Ted visit Socrates.

With that in mind, and as we edge into the winter months of the year I have looked back upon what has been a non-music fans guide to British music in 2011.

The year has seen many winners and losers, splits and reconciliations and sadly a number of high profile ‘home grown’ losses perhaps most notably Amy Winehouse; a victim of success and another bitter admittance to the 27 club. Amy, like so many before her, will be mourned and remembered as we show our respect by dressing up as her at Halloween for the years to come.

year in music PJ harvey The Non Music Fans Guide to... A Year in MusicPJ Harvey celebrated winning the coveted Mercury Prize with her seminal ‘Let England Shake’ which reflects upon this her time in Great Britain and lovingly celebrates its ‘damp grey filthiness’. I have sat with this record for some time now and have concluded that, despite what some harsher critics might say. I probably still would.

Summer came and went and, though they may have lacked the red and the white, Blue lived up to their name with a drab, lacklustre and narcoleptic performance at this year’s Eurovision.

Locally we have fared well and Maybeshewill show that they are more than just the exit music to the credits of an indie film by releasing their third album to critical acclaim. Meanwhile, having recently returned from their holiday with The Specials, By the Rivers continue to put more seasoned and experienced musicians to shame with their faultless commitment and abundant hairlines.

Leicester heroes Kasabian treated locals to two intimate shows, as well as releasing their third or fourth studio album, Velocraptor! which is already being heralded as one of the releases of the year.

Other albums of note include the much anticipated ‘King of Limbs’ from supply teachers, Radiohead. It may not seem like the most logical comparison, but you know when people post pictures of their dinner on Facebook? Well, this record is about that interesting. But I was hardly going to ‘get’ Radiohead, was I? I mean, I don’t read broadsheets or brush my teeth, so perhaps something more upbeat would be more my thing and many people recommended ‘On a mission’. This, the debut album from London’s (I assume) Katy B combines Dub-step, dance and ‘ragga’ compounded with that voice all the actors in ‘Kidulthood’ use.

Mediocrity and a small guitar seem to be key to success in music with Ed Sheeran’s ‘plus’ album being one of the year’s biggest sellers. The record is brimming full of fascinating social observations about important issues such as cartoons we used to watch as kids and computer games.

Director’s Cut by Kate Bush is equally full of surprises; most shocking of all is that Kate Bush isn’t dead as I had thought. Sticking with the girls, (as I like to do) I was looking forward to hearing the debut record ‘Past Life Martyred Saints’ by EMA but the government cut it.

I think Arctic Monkeys’ frontman Alex Turner must have broken up Alexa Chung as he’s managed to write two albums this year. ‘Submarine’ is the title of his soundtrack to the film of the same name and, like the Arctic Monkeys hilariously titled album ‘Suck it and see’; I’ve also not listened to it either. In keeping with indie music, it’s good to see Damon Albarn finally doing something new since his days in Blur, and though Beady Eye’s ‘Different Gear, Still Speeding’ isn’t quite the departure I was expecting, it does fulfil the minimal possible expectation one can possibly expect from a record. Next up, What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? Not much as it goes. Cheers guys, you’ve saved me a lot of time

‘Cults’ by Cults. People name their cars, their pets and even their gentiles. So, when you have gone to the effort of writing an album, why would you not want to name it? Bunch of Cults.

Obviously there were a large number of other credible albums this year as well as many, well, ‘less credible’ and, as we draw into the winter of the year we begin to notice various on-line petitions for ironic (but ultimately insidiously collusive) tracks to beat the X factor winner to Christmas number one slot. So with reference to reality talent shows I’m going to try and keep it short…

I think I did well.