Saturday, 27 November 2010

Album Review: Record Collection

Mark Ronson and the Business Intl - Record Collection

This album, advertised all over London during September, did not initially pike my interest, until I saw Mark Ronson on the Rob Brydon show. He was so charismatic and entertaining that I decided to give it a go. I watched a few videos on youtube firstly, and 'The Bike Song' and 'Circuit Breaker' were so different to the majority of music these days that I went out and bought the album.

Now, I have had good and bad experiences buying albums after only hearing one or perhaps two songs. Sam Sparro's debut album impressed me greatly after only hearing 'Black and Gold' a few years ago. Empire of the Sun is another good example.

Record Collection's catalogue of songs takes influence from 80's synthpop with a touch of 70's disco thrown in. Using talented vocalists as his leads, such as the amazing Rose Elinor Dougall and Amanda Warner from MNDR (featured on the first track, 'Bang Bang Bang')

The main influences I can hear in Mark Ronson's work is Eurythmics, Roxette, Depeche Mode, with an infusion of new millenium hard dance. This album is pure ecstasy for the ears, with no tracks that you would want to skip. A breakdown of the album is like so:

1. Bang Bang Bang - Featuring Q-Tip and MNDR - This track is brilliant, the epitome of new synth, with an infectious rhythm and funky French lyrics in the chorus that are delivered with a cool and effortless attitude. The video clip is also fantastic. Link:

2. Lose It (In the End)- (featuring Ghostface Killah and Alex Greenwald) - The R'n'B and rap fusion in this track really works, with a lacing of trance in the middle, an eclectic and toe-tapping mix. Link:"

3. The Bike Song - (featuring Kyle Falconer and Spank Rock)- This is a funky track, a bit more pop than the others, with a laid-back and casual feel, Kyle Falconer's voice suits this track, the rap in the middle is lighthearted and fun. Link:

4. Somebody to Love Me - (featuring Boy George and Andrew Wyatt) - A fantastic mix of ballad and pop, the lyrics indicate sadness and a kind of regret for what one's future has become. 'See the boy I once was in my eyes' especially shows this. Link:

5. You Gave Me Nothing - (featuring Rose Elinor Dougall and Andrew Wyatt) - This would be a fantastic break-up song, it empowers the individual I absolutely adore Dougall's voice, it's smooth as honey and has a slight Brit twang to it. A song that should be pumped loud, as should all of them, really. Link:

6. The Colour of Crumar - A little instrumental ditty, that is still quite catchy all on its own, but would be great as a lead-in to a longer song as well. Or even used on a movie score, it would work quite well. Link:"

7. Glass Mountain Trust - (featuring D'Angelo) - Another song with a bit of R'n'B fusion. D'Angelo's voice really adds a depth to this song that perhaps wouldn't be there without him. The 'I'm Free Now' lyric really resonates. Link:

8. Circuit Breaker - Another instrumental, but this time it is absolutely addictive to listen to, could be formatted to fit a jazz or hip-hop dance group, or be remixed to play in clubs, the stop-start type format of the song leaves you wanting more when it ends. This song could be doubled in time and it would be just as awesome. Link:

9. Introducing the Business - (featuring Pill and London Gay Men's Chorus)- 'This is the business, prepare to take witness' - Another synth/rap fusion, Ronson's way of mixing these genres assures that it is always something that works. Although I thought this track perhaps should be track 1. Link:

10. Record Collection - (featuring Simon Le Bon and Wiley) - The lyrics to this track is better than the music itself. Which is a bit repetitive, but that is not to say it is a bad track, but the music isn't as addictive as some of the other songs. Link:

11. Selector - A slow, easy listening track that is a good transition between the two sandwiching songs. Link:

12. Hey Boy -(featuring Rose Elinor Dougall and Theophilus London) - Another gorgeous song with the velvety voice of Dougall, this is a very 'in love' song. The lyric 'that boy, he's so beautiful, sleeping in the chair' - what a stunning line. This song reminds me of love. The rap, is perhaps a bit misplaced in this song, it's funky, but not really needed. Link:

13. Missing Words - Another instrumental, a thing I love about this album is that they showcase their musical talent as well as lyrical. This has a slight harmonical feel about it. Link:

14. The Night Last Night - (featuring Rose Elinor Dougall and Alex Greenwald)
This is a very funky, and different song, they have broken the music mould with this, adding upbeat drum beats, and Dougall's voice, again, slows it right down and changes the pace at all the right moments. A brilliant track. Link:

All in all, this album is very worth buying, and I am hoping that sometime in the future, they release a special edition with a DVD, or extra tracks and such. Mark Ronson has exploded onto the music scene and I hope this is not the last we hear of him, or his record collection.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Retail Hijinx

Working in the retail industry since I was 16, I have noticed a burgeoning trend for rudeness. Which happens less in big department stores (although it still happens, less at the tills because most of the time people are buying a lot of items and small talk is needed to fill the silence), and much more in smaller stores. The 'impulse' item industry has gone through the roof over the past 10 years, and the problem is, entire stores are now becoming 'impulse' stores.

There is still no need for the lack of manners, the blatant ignorance for curtesy, and the attitude that people, of any age and gender, give to shop workers. Really, people should not need to be told what to do and what not to do, but they do. They need it a ton. Thus, I present to you, a short list of DO's and DO NOT DO's of being a customer.

1. Smile at the cashier. I cannot tell you how a sulky face puts me in a sulky mood myself, 10 sulky faces in a row is just bloody unnessecary.

2. Say 'Hello!' or 'Hi!' back when they greet you. Don't ignore us and just walk away. 'What a bitch' we'll think about you.

3. Try and take the time to give correct change. I know that this isn't always possible, but it is definitely appreciated. Don't use us as a bank and just change large notes for a bottle of water. You may think this isn't a big deal, but when 10 people do it in a row, it becomes a very big deal. The change runs out, and then you bitch that you can't have a 5 pound note when you give us a tenner for something that costs 50p. DON'T DO IT.

4. Say 'thankyou' when they give you the change. This isn't hard. Just be a nice person. Simply. This shouldn't even have to be written. But I guarantee you every.single. worker in the country, and even all over the world, has a rude customer story. Don't be one of those rude customers.

1. Don't talk on your phone at the counter! This is one of the rudest things you can do and it pisses everyone off! Just put it down for one second! Because if there is one thing we can't stand, it's people who ignore us!

2. Don't leave your ipod earphones in your ears, then ask what the price is again when you weren't listening to us the first time.

3. Have a LOOK for what you want first, instead of making us find something for you as soon as you walk through the door. Use those things called eyes first!

4. Do I have my bag on? Jumper on? Looking relaxed? I'm probably finished for the day, haven't started yet or I am on break. LEAVE ME ALONE AT ALL COSTS.

5. Don't get angry at us if we don't have exactly what you need. It is probably not our fault. It is mostly a supplier problem.

6. Check that is EXACTLY what you want before you pay for it! AND CHECK the return policy if you plan on returning anything. Even if you don't, check it just in case. Don't bring back the item after the return period then have a whinge when we can't do anything about it.

7. Don't put the money on the counter when the cashier is holding their hand out for it. This is extremely rude and we will respond by putting YOUR change on the counter, no matter how much of it there is. See how inconvenient that is?

We will always remember the bad customers. So try not to be one of them. Just people the way you want to be treated, basically. Customer service is a repetitive, boring, brain-numbingly annoying job, and we can ALWAYS tell when someone has never worked a day in their life. The naivety isn't charming, it's grating. When you are serving the same type of person all day long, try and stand out as one of the good ones. The good customers brighten a day. You don't realize how much good you are doing by being a good customer.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010


Since moving to London. I have become...less patient, less caring, less fun, and in general a grumpier, angrier, more annoyed person. I know what you're thinking, how on earth could YOU get any MORE of any of those things. Very easily.

You do not think of London as a carefree type place, it is a strained, stressed, pumping city that throbs and beats, like a big heart. It sleeps, but very lightly. It is dirty, it stinks and it's expensive. Why would I love living here so much then?

I have such a love/hate relationship with this city. It comes from the fact that I live in such a dank area of the East, which, I persuade anyone moving to London not to move to East London. It's racist, sexist, confronting and forces you to change the way you feel about certain things. Which, I suppose, all in all, may not be such a bad thing.

A faith school in East London had children pouring out of it last night and I felt immense pity for them, until I realized they were still at an age where it wasn't affecting them yet, they were running, screaming, playing, just normal kids. Yet I know that as they get older, the religion that is forced on them will squeeze out all their creativity, and capability for open minded thinking. But, even just for this brief moment in time, they are happy, laughing children. Just like anyone else.

Piccadilly at night is a wonder to behold. The giant Sanyo neon sign pumping and the endless tourists posing in silhouettes against it. I take a breath every time I walk out of the tube station and see it. It seems like I am in a sort of eternity, but, things will change, people will change.

Will they?

Londons people are of a few stark different kinds. The posh middle and upper class. The average working class, the tourists, and the scum. The scum, I do not think I am acting too rashly when I say it is anyone who spits, leaves litter, pees in a public place, yells catcalls at women, screams at someone on the tube hoping to provoke a fight, and bible bashers. Stop ruining London.

The freedom of this city is overrun by the idiots, and while I do not mean to sound snobby, as I am far from an upperclass man myself, I just wish people were a little more polite. When I first got here I took every pamphlet, listened to every crier, stared at every homeless person, said sorry to everyone I bumped into. Now, I could care less about every one of them. I am encased in my own little world. Headphones in and not ready to smile at any of them. As many of the others are.

I hope this does not affect my friendliness in the long run, as I know I am quite a stressed and highly strung person. I don't want to become worse, and completely closed off from meeting excellent new people. London is a great city, and if you pick your places, it can make a good home, but I wouldn't recommend it to live for anyone who has high stress levels.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Oikos (ii-kos)

This show was unlike anything I have seen before. Heavily steeped in Hindi Biblical mythology, 'Oikos' opens on a man, Salil, overworked and frustrated, coming home from work. He is stressed, talking on two phones at once, and clearly exhausted. He remembers the simpler times, back in his home in India. When he and his sister used to play a game that involved a rock, a skip, and good balance.

"Boys don't have good balance!!"

What follows is a tumble through the interesting, but surprisingly normal, lives of 3 family members. Salil, and his wife and daughter. Who are both feeling disconnected from him, as he spends so much time at work. His wife, emotional but unyielding, volunteers for the poorer Chinese people in the area, as she likes their 'family ethics', she is also desperate to reconnect with Salil. His daughter, Lily, is a teenage dirtbag, who frequents parties, and is going through what you would call her 'rebellious' phase. However, Salil is having re-occuring dreams and visions about his life in India, and his family.

We find out later that his family were drowned. Salil blames Gungah, the water god, for taking them away from him, and as we see, his past may come back to haunt him in more ways than one.

The acting is suberb, the setting is intimate, and the storyline is sublime. So different from anything I have ever seen before, and I can only say positive things about it. The way the actors interact with other 'people' (as in, acting with no one there) is incredible. The Oikos Project is indeed a fantastic one, and I believe everyone should go see this show!

Thursday, 2 September 2010


The obvious differences between the Hollywood of today and 50 years ago is more apparent now than it has ever been. I am not simply talking about the changes in dress and style. I am talking about acting talent.

Today, it seems, anyone who is hot enough can be an actor, and I am talking about women. Men, can be as ugly as the back of a bus but still get acting jobs (although I must say that has been declining in recent years too, and the current male actors are ridiculously polished.)

Acting talent has decreased substantially, wooden, expressionless faces are seemingly the norm, and god help you if you are a woman older than 50 in Hollywood. Not just in Hollywood, but even in our own local news stations. How often is it you see an older male of around 60, but a younger woman as his co-anchor? I don't even think i've ever seen older women REPORTERS on the news. Let alone as the main face!

Now, I do consider myself a feminist, but only in the old sense of the word. In movies lately, the female roles are still substantially less than the male roles. Women have very stereotypical roles, 'ditzy', 'ingenue', 'she liked the bad boy but now she likes the good boy', 'bad ass for difference' and 'shes the sensible one.'

It's just pathetic. Also, body image is heavily, heavily influenced by models. Models, who frequently become actors themselves, are usually not trained in acting, but agencies don't mind, if they look good on the camera, then they are usually given precedence. Which is disgusting. Normal sized women are already hard to come by in the skinny-obsessed industry, it doesn't help when models are making their way in as well.

I don't have a problem with models wanting to be actors, but they need to be able to ACT. This seems to be a hard thing for people to understand. Normal sized women should not be 'refreshing' in Hollywood. It should be NORMAL. We should be putting more pressure on studios to do this more often.

The female role in fame has strengthened greatly in the last ten years, with excellent role models such as Tina Fey for the comedy stage (which we are very under-represented), and Christina Hendricks for television. Where she has not yielded to pressure to fit in, as her body is very feminine, putting aside that she works on 'Mad Men' - she would have fit into 50's Hollywood perfectly.

Women need to make sure that this kind of difference, this individuality, is expressed. All types, but especially types that do not fit the norm. Boyish types, Overtly feminine types, sporty types. Women need to have as much variety as men do in Hollywood, and I am sure, over the next 50 years, we can put acting talent back as something that is genuinly admired, rather than just looks alone.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Music Selection

Currently, I am trying to catch up on a few months not following my usual suspects in the music scene. Which is odd for me, falling out of touch like this. I would really like to start getting back into all of the Jpop scene. As I am hoping to spend some time over there, either next year or the year after that.

As for music, I have discovered some new artists I really like. One of them is Aya Kamiki. I don't know why I never listened to her seriously before, but I am sure I have some of her music somewhere. She's cool, she's really punky and has a different sounding voice to generic pop stuff.

At the moment, I am checking out AVEX's new releases. They are always guaranteed to have quality music. I am looking forward to SUPER*GIRLS when they eventually bring out their new music. They have a range of different ages and looks, and I hope they do better than AKB48.

(and hopefully aren't as attractive for pervy old men >.>)

It'd be wicked if anyone could hit SweetS style of music, as they were just the best pop band I've heard in years.

Kumi's new single 'Fishbowl' looks kick-ass. Also, Maki's new single 'Eyes' looks quite good as well, although she is really sexing up her act lately. She has been for a few years, but you'd think she would have classed it up a bit now. It may take her a while I suppose.
Years of acting like an innocent schoolgirl type in MM probably stuffed her up for a few years. Ha~

Friday, 14 May 2010


The smell of strawberries spun with sugar wafts over my nostrils and suddenly, I am in primary school, staring up at the hot sun and taking swimming lessons every Wednesday. Running as fast as you can to be the first one to poke the bleeding tree, in the nature area that is slowly dwindling.

Fast forward to a place that smells of age and wine, being pushed to the ground by a baseball glove, being smacked in the face with your own hand. Dreading the fear that you know others will smell. Others will prey on it. Feed on it.

Into a state where the sun never stops shining and the rain is an uncommon occurance. The blackcurrants infiltrate my nostrils and my tongue, awakening my senses to put away the repetitions of the endless summer, the short skirts, the beeping cars. The slandering profanities..

To a slum of red wine, swimming in my head, deep, deep nights filled with sorrow. Tears and sunken eyes. Trawling the computer for material that will distract my thoughts. Waking in a haze, resting in a daze. I slip through my days like an unknown ghost.

To euphoria touched with melancholy, a smell of sweetness that ends with notes of harshness and anger. The darkest, darkest love, a love that could kill. A love that would shatter everything and destroy my life. A love that will stay with me forever. Yet, it does not smell bitter, it is still sweet, if stalely so.