Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Albums of the Year 2013: The Top Ten

And the finest ten records released this year are... drum roll please...

10. DAUGHTER: If You Leave


8. PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING: Inform - Educate - Entertain

7. BIFFY CLYRO: Opposites

6. FUTURE OF THE LEFT: How To Stop Your Brain in an Accident

5. PARQUET COURTS: Light Up Gold / Tally All The Things That You Broke

4. FRIGHTENED RABBIT: Pedestrian Verse

3. VILLAGERS: {awayland}

2. SAVAGES: Silence Yourself

And this year's finest record...

1. R KELLY: Black Panties

Such verve, such poise, such grace; an album that explores timeless themes with a varied and classy musical and lyrical palette. Songs like 'Marry the Pussy' really push the boundaries and will doubtless strike a chord with even the most... oh, okay, I'll stop. The REAL number one...

1. THE NATIONAL: Trouble Will Find Me

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Albums of the Year 30-11

30. SURFER BLOOD: Pythons

29. MONEY: Shadow of Heaven

28. SHOPPING: Consumer Complaints

27. ARCANE ROOTS: Blood & Chemistry

26. LONDON GRAMMAR: London Grammar

25. SIGUR ROS: Kveikur

24. ESBEN AND THE WITCH: Wash the Sins Not Only the Face

23. KURT VILE: Wakin on a Pretty Daze

22. THE HEAD AND THE HEART: Let's Be Still

21. WAXAHATCHEE: Cerulean Salt

20. FOALS: Holy Fire

19. OWEN: L'Ami du Peuple

18. DRENGE: Drenge

17. HAIM: Days Are Gone

16. ARCADE FIRE: Reflektor

15. ONSIND: Anesthesiology

14. COLD CROWS DEAD: I Fear A New World



11. KEATON HENSON: Birthdays

Monday, 23 December 2013

Albums of the Year: 50-31

50. TEGAN & SARA: Heartthrob

(Yeah, I was all like, "This is terrible!" when this was first released but after a month or so, I started dancing around my room like an idiot to it. Go figure.)

49. PEACE: In Love


47. EELS: Wonderful, Glorious!

46. MAZES: Ores & Minerals

45. YEAH YEAH YEAHS: Mosquito

44. VERONICA FALLS: Waiting for Something to Happen


42. LEMURIA: The Distance is So Big

41. WHITE DENIM: Corsicana Lemonade


40. BRITISH SEA POWER: Machineries of Joy

39. CHVRCHES: The Bones of What We Believe

38. VAMPIRE WEEKEND: Modern Vampires of the City

37. CAMERA OBSCURA: Desire Lines

36. SWEET BABOO: Ships

35. MY FIRST TOOTH: Love Makes Monsters

34. THE JULIE RUIN: Run Fast

33. LOCAL NATIVES: Hummingbird

32. JOANNA GRUESOME: Weird Sister

31. QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE: Like Clockwork

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Albums of the Year 2013: 75-51

75. COLOUR ME WEDNESDAY: I Thought It Was Morning

74. DUTCH UNCLES: Out of Touch in the Wild

73. SCOTT & CHARLENE'S WEDDING: Any Port in a Storm

72. DADS: Brush Your Teeth Again

71. THE NAKED AND FAMOUS: In Rolling Waves

70. FEAR OF MEN: Early Fragments

69. THE WAVE PICTURES: City Forgiveness

68. MIDLAKE: Antiphon

67. POLICA: Shulamith

66. GREAT CYNICS: Like I Belong

65. ICEAGE: You're Nothing

64. IRON & WINE: Ghost on Ghost

63. THE PASTELS: Slow Summits

62. LOW: The Invisible Way

61. PISSED JEANS: Honeys


60. SLEIGH BELLS: Bitter Rivals

59. DEERHUNTER: Monomania

58. THESE NEW PURITANS: Field of Reeds


56. TOUCHE AMORE: Is Survived By


54. JD SAMSON & MEN: Labor

53. SWEARIN': Surfin' Strange

52. SUEDE: Bloodsports

51. FIDLAR: Fidlar

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Homeland reviews: 301 - 305

Yeah. Kicking this bloody blog into gear again. You have my permission to slap me around the face if I don't keep it up. TV, gig and album (mini?) reviews coming up. And anything else I may feel like. 

301: 'Tin Man Is Down'

Written by Alex Gansa & Barbara Hall
Directed by Lesli Linker Glatta
It's no secret that I had my issues with Homeland's second season; by the final hours, I had tired of the seemingly never-ending Ballad of Carrie and Brody, and was ready to throw several sharp implements through my television screen every time the pair of them appeared on my screen together... so thank Heavens for the final half hour of that season finale when everything went horribly pair-shaped and the pair were forced to split... hopefully, for good. And that's, thankfully, where we're (still) at, 60 minutes into Homeland's third season. Carrie's career is on the line, everyone around is betraying her, and there isn't a Nicholas Brody in sight. Good. The more distance Homeland can place between these two at this point, the better (it's more believable, for starters). It allows for other storylines to take prominence such as, er, Carrie's fragile psyche and um, Dana Brody's attempted suicide. Actually, I'm being unfair here - neither of these are *bad* plot decisions per se, and in fact, their treatment in this first installment is more than passable. Claire Danes is great as an increasingly isolated, and vilified, Carrie and Dana's story is actually remotely interesting for once. It's an understandable consequence of what appears to be her Dad's horrifying betrayal and, well, it gives the incredibly talented Morgan Saylor something gritty to get to grips with. There's also a rather niftily written and directed espionage sequence in which the CIA takes out a number of key players in the Langley bombing, designed neatly to whet our appetites for the main course to come. A good start then, if, perhaps necessarily, a slow one. (8/10)
302: 'Uh... Oh... Ah'

Written by Chip Johannessen
Directed by Lesli Linker Glatter

Two episodes in and still, Homeland refuses to show us a single, measly inch of Nicholas Brody (admittedly, judging by the previews, it looks like this may all change next week, but still...) It's a brave move, given that a significant proportion of the show's popularity can be attributed to his character, if, as it transpires, not an entirely successful one. Had the writing staff managed to fill the gap left by his exclusion with stories of sufficient weight to keep us permanently rooted to our seats, the absence might not be felt so strongly. As it is, the show is beginning to falter and, worse, stall for time. While Claire Danes once again gets some incredibly meaty stuff to sink her teeth into, and does so with sufficient skill to guarantee her a few Emmy nominations, you can't help feeling like we've been here before. Because we have. Repeatedly. Throughout seasons one and two. It's all well written, of course, and sharply directed but, to be frank, we're virtually experts in Carrie's broken psyche by now. And yeah, Saul's apparent transformation into, well, something of an asshole is interesting to watch but there isn't really enough surrounding this to make it as engaging as it could be. And, sadly, despite the high hopes I had last week, it appears that Dana's storyline is destined to retread the missteps of season two and become little more than a 'damaged girl meets damaged boy' type thing. Sigh. (6/10)

303: 'Tower of David'

Written by Henry Bromell & William Bromell
Directed by Clark Johnson

Homeland isn't exactly in the good books of a great many of its viewers at the moment and it's easy to understand why: with a narrative that's creeping along rather than propelling with any significant momentum, often rehashing tropes of old, one could definitely be forgiven for feeling more than a little frustrated. And truth be told, if that's how the show is making you feel right now, you'll probably feel even worse by the end of 'Tower of David'. This is an episode that positively revels in its sluggishness, refusing pointedly to engage with the central narrative and instead taking time out to present a character study of a battered, bruised and broken Nicholas Brody. It's mostly detached from everything else going on around it, save for a few obligatory check-ins with Carrie (and it's questionable whether these should've been included) but frankly, therein lies its greatest strength. This is as powerful an hour of television as Homeland has ever produced, stripping away the layers of Brody's psyche gradually, painfully, until he's left little more than a shell, sprawled on the floorof this hovel he now calls home.

This is difficult television, painful to watch at times, but in the main, it's perfectly pitched - this isn't meant to be enjoyable, it's meant to make us uncomfortable, to give us a insight into the consequences of the events that occurred at the end of season two. It's another brave move from the Homeland writing staff and one for which they should be applauded. It doesn't always work - the middle section of the episode in particular lacks some gravitas and threatens to disengage the viewer - but when it does, there's some outstanding stuff here. Damien Lewis turns in a stellar performance from first to last, and the direction and cinematography is breathtaking. A harrowing watch, then, but a necessary one. (8/10)

304: 'Game On'

Written by Alex Gansa & James Yoshimura
Directed by David Nutter

Well. There's a turn up for the books, huh? In the most controversial swerve since 24 revealed that Jack Bauer's descent into drug-addled madness was actually pre-planned, it turns out Saul and Carrie had a gargantuan play going all along and that his betrayal and her subsequent trip to the clinic was all meticulously planned and orchestrated in order to lure the Iranians out of the woodwork. Credit to the writers in one sense, at least - I did not see this coming. They successfully managed to persuade me that we were all set to witness Saul's decent into hard-nosed bastarddom and another round of Carrie as helpless victim. On the other hand, the idea that all of this was concocted in the hopes of achieving one particular outcome stretches credulity quite substantially. While it is undoubtedly true that the writing staff plotted the season arc with this turn in mind, it doesn't exactly seem like the most problem-free of deceptions. And the question of whether Carrie would willingly subject herself to this sort of torture is also a highly relevant one, given where she was throughout season two. I don't exactly feel cheated (like, apparently, a lot of other viewers do), but I don't know that this waste best way to arc the season. The aforementioned 24 twist suffered from similar problems... and it's no coincidence really, given that Homeland showrunner Howard Gordon worked on that series too.

What of the rest of the episode, then? Well, it was all a bit meh, to be honest. Those assisting the Iranians seem interesting and sinister enough, and Claire Danes did some more stellar work as an increasingly desperate Carrie, but there's a distinct lack of substance in the main. Dana's storyline, depressingly, is rapidly becoming a rehash of season two, which is the last thing we need. Here's hoping that now the cat's out of the bag, we can get round to some actual business and, you know, jump-start the story a little bit. Just a thought. (6/10)

305:  'The Yoga Play'

Written by Patrick Harbinson
Directed by Clark Johnson

Frustratingly, instead of propelling its narrative into the stratosphere following last week's oh-so-shocking revelation, Homeland remains content with the auto-pilot setting for much of its fifth hour, preferring to concentrate on the entirely irrelevant and down-right irritating Dana Brody B-storyline. Sure, there's some significant story progression elsewhere - the scenes involving Carrie's humiliating strip search and subsequent kidnapping are suitably tense and engaging, and Saul's day out with the CIA's latest bent director turns in one of the finest (and bitchiest) speeches in the show's history (go Saul!) - but in the main, this is a trudgingly slow episode, focusing on all the wrong things. The meat of the hour involves a great deal of pontificating on Carrie's part and most worryingly of all, actually marries her narrative to the Brody's. While this may be an attempt to give it some weight and - Heaven help it - some significance, given that virtually nothing at all comes of it, it all ends up feeling and reading exactly like what it is: a stalling technique because the writers don't have actual material to fill twelve episodes. I mean, come on - what actually happened to Dana? She flirts, goes into a store, watches a bit of TV, learns the shocking truth about her boyfriend and, er, gives herself up. Meanwhile, we're supposed to invest in Carrie's attempt to involve the FBI. It's cheap, it's lazy and above all, it's boring. Don't get me wrong, I am all for the inclusion of the Brodys, provided the writers can do something original and engaging with them. As it is, they're simply trotting out tired, cliched narrative devices and virtually recycling what's come before. Frankly, we expect... nay, we deserve better than this. Come on, Homeland. Get it together. (4/10)

Regular service is about to resume...

What it says on the tin. Here, have a cover of Ace of Base's 'All That She Wants' by the most UK's most ridiculously exciting new band (their debut will be one of the best things to happen in 2014. Guaranteed).

Monday, 3 June 2013

Thrones Thoughts: 309: 'The Rains of Castamere'

Okay. The day has finally arrived. The episode that A Song of Ice and Fire readers have been simultaneously gagging for and dreading in equal measure has been and gone. One of the biggest, most shocking game-changers in the entire series has finally unfolded onscreen. And we can all breathe a collective sigh of relief alongside our howls of anguish because, for the most part, it’s a beaut. Oh and we don’t have to keep our lips firmly sealed for the Unsullied amongst us anymore. Huzzah!
So, the Red Wedding. Nice day for it, huh? Sorry. No more Billy Idol jokes. Promise. Inevitably, just as with Blackwater Bay , Benioff and Weiss aren’t going to please everyone. There will be howls of derision from book readers on the downplaying of Grey Wind’s role, the very presence of Lady Talisa (she doesn’t exist!), the fact that the drummers are actually talented and, perhaps most importantly, Cat’s catatonic state prior to her execution. It is this criticism that I have the most time for – the others seeming relatively insignificant or contradictory to the aims of the narrative structure. Her breakdown upon witnessing Roose murdering her son is one of the most visceral, harrowing moments in A Storm of Swords (for non-book readers: she claws at her own face, screaming wildly) and it’s a pity they chose to eschew it. Michele Fairley would undoubtedly have done a fantastic job portraying this and it would have added an extra layer of horror to what is ultimately a fucking terrifying sequence. However, I’d sooner they went for an extreme reaction as opposed to, say, having her just burst into tears, and it does make perfect sense in the context of her characterisation. Catelyn now, quite literally, has nothing left. She’s spent; done. Her initial scream of anguish gives way to a hollow emptiness as her whole world is swept out from under her. And that’s after she slits the throat of a – probably – innocent girl. In the end, it’s still frightfully powerful stuff, desperately intense. Fairley is Emmy-worthy here; her monologue sends chills down the spine, tears flowing from the eyes, jaws thudding to the floor.
And therein lies the key to the episode’s brutal success: its ability to shock. The wedding’s ultimate endgame is barely hinted at for the duration of the first forty-five minutes, Benioff and Weiss preferring to abandon some of the foreboding signposts that Martin planted in his novel which clued readers in to the possibility that something was amiss. This can be a difficult pill to swallow for the Sullied among us; some of the horror of those chapters is in the sense of dread that we collectively experience and how that is then realised in the most horrifying way. However, the technique of disguising the events, of minimising the extent to which the betrayal is telegraphed, is equally as effective; one need only look to the Twitter, Facebook and forum comments from Unsullied readers in the aftermath of the episode’s airing for evidence. This is a genuinely leftfield moment, a suckerpunch from nowhere unlike, quite probably, anything else you’ve seen on television. Well, except Sean Bean’s beheading (and thank you Game of Thrones for that jawdropper too). The script lulls us into a false sense of security with a series of softer exchanges between other characters in various antecedent scenes and even injects a glimmer of hope through the success of Grey Worm, Jorah Mormont and Daario in Yunkai (a somewhat blunt victory this, although the fight sequence is superbly choreographed and that’s some fantastic bloody make-up). And the wedding build-up itself is equally as light-hearted in tone; while there is a modicum of tension in the initial scene with Lord Walder, it soon gives way to something unpleasant rather than foreboding. It’s a truly fantastic scene this with some A* performances, particularly from David Bradley who just relishes every rich line of dialogue he’s given (indeed, his mannerisms and inflections during the massacre lend it even greater weight later in the episode).
But then it happens. ‘The Rains of Castamere’ begins, the doors are bolted shut and we’re into ten (or so) minutes of bloodshed and horror. Ten minutes that cannot fail but to leave you battered, bruised and war-torn. Ten minutes that you’ll be thinking and talking about for days, nay weeks, nay until the next season of the show rolls around. David Nutter’s direction is, quite frankly, first class, making perfect use of jump-cut and mise en scene to capture the messy chaos of the proceedings. Crucially, this is no holds barred stuff; Nutter doesn’t shy away from depicting the brutality, he tackles it head on. So the Freys stab Talisa in the stomach. And then they do it again. And again. And again. And then so many times you that there is absolutely no question of that unborn infant’s mortality, let alone her own, and suddenly, we’re in shock. So much so in one case (actually, probably many cases) that a viewer and commentator has opted to abandon the show altogether. Each to his or her own. I can understand that this may be too much for some to stomach but this is A Song of Ice and Fire, not Lord of the Rings. The people of this world can be cruel and callous and if you think any different, you’re watching the wrong show. It isn’t a step too far; it’s a tone-perfect addition to the original text. It sits just right next to the crossbow arrows, the commencement of the slaughter outside the Twins, Grey Wind’s execution, Roose’s “the Lannisters send their regards” (how good is Michael McEllarton here?) and that final shot in leaving absolutely no question that this is the end of the line for Robb Stark’s war. He is dead, his bannermen (for the large part) are dead, his wife is dead, his unborn child is dead, his mother is dead. It’s terrifying, it’s unfair, it’s unexpected, it’s everything we are conditioned not to expect from television drama. And for that, it’s worth every shred of praise that can be heaped upon it. And I’ll offer one more: the callous, unremitting final moments, couched in silence, in which Catelyn stands broken, and a nameless Frey approaches her from behind and slits her throat. Sickening, yes, but superbly brave all the same.
Having re-read that last paragraph, it does sound a little bloodthirsty and rather like I’m relishing all this gore, but then, it’s hard to praise horror without coming across like some sort of sadist. Let’s move on. Bran and Rickon. A sweet, sweet parting scene with some real acting chops from Art Parkinson. Bravo. Queenscrown – excellent stuff. Nutter’s direction is wonderfully tense here and thank the Lords, Benioff and Weiss finally, finally engage with the concept of Warging and give the audience an insight into just what Brandon is capable of. There are minor details that are different but in large part, Summer and Shaggydog’s assault on the Wildlings and particularly, Bran’s warging into Hodor is straight from the novels (also loved “stop Hodoring!”) Isaac Hempstead-Wright plays this whole sequence beautifully and props also to Thomas Brodie-Sangster who continues to prove that he is just perfectly cast as Jojen Reed. Outside the tower, Kit Harrington and Rose Leslie are fantastic as Jon is faced with his biggest challenge yet and at last, we get Orell’s eagle attack which leaves our bastard boy with a bit of a scar. I was on the edge of my seat during all of this which is saying something when you know (pretty much) what happens. What else? Oh yes, Sam and Gilly come across the Nightfort; I’m reserving comment on this until close of play next week due to potential spoilers. And, of course, Arya. Poor, poor Arya. So close, yet so far. Congratulations to Benioff and Weiss for making this as achingly tragic as it is in the novels and also for some truly sparkling dialogue between her character and Sandor in the run-up to the main event. Credit is also due, I think, for choosing to abandon the novel’s little narrative trick of leaving us all thinking she may have died too when the Hound knocks her unconscious. That may have been a step too far for the show, to be honest.
So. ‘The Rains of Castamere’. Quite probably one of the most shocking episodes of television you’re ever likely to witness. Sure, it’s not quite how *I* would’ve done it, yes, there are a few changes that I would question and okay, some omissions that, in an ideal world, I’d love to see included. But, do you know what? Fuck that. The episode achieves its aims, it captures the essence, the heart and most of the detail of Martin’s vision perfectly and it does for Unsullied show-watchers what the novel has done to so many readers over the years: it leaves you brow-beaten, shell-shocked, heartbroken. A tour de force, then, and an hour of TV you’ll never forget. (10/10)

Monday, 15 April 2013

Thrones Thoughts: #303 'Walk of Punishment'

'Walk of Punishment' is quite comfortably the best installment of the season so far, with a combination of superb writing and direction, some stellar performances, sparkling dialogue and a palatable momentum to the narrative working in tandem to keep the viewer on the edge of his or her seat. It's mightily impressive that David Benioff and D.B. Weiss not only wrote the episode but directed it too, and that it didn't feel rushed or lacking at all. These guys deserve more credit than they get. Anyhow, on to the lavishing of the praise...

First and foremost, Jamie and Brienne. So beautifully written and acted. Gwendoline and Nikolaj are just made for these roles; the scene on horseback is a superb marriage of sarcasm and genuine emotion. And then, of course, there's the final sequence, which is just a delight from start to finish, brilliantly portraying the horror of the scenario while keeping everything on a knife's edge. I'm really enjoying the work of whomever's playing Noah Locke; he's expertly subtle, which just adds to his menace. And, of course, we have the hand-chopping... a moment book readers have been looking forward (or otherwise!) to for some time. And it doesn't disappoint. Yup, guys, that's his sword hand gone. Pleasant. I personally loved the segue into the Hold Steady's 'The Bear and the Maiden Fair' over the end credits but it seems fan reaction is rather mixed. Some feel it jars. I think it's a great juxtaposition. Each to his/her own.

Other 10/10 sequences: everything involving Dany. Her storyline continues to go from strength to strength. Emilia Clarke is just brilliant in her scene with Kraznys (and, yet again, the actor portraying him absolutely nails it). Kudos to Iain Glen and, er, Barristan Selmy for doing a great job with the Rhaegar material too and let's give some serious props to the actress playing Missandei. Everyone just hits a home run in these two scenes and does an incredible job of conveying this horrifyingly brutal slave society. And the walk of punishment... man oh man, so gruesome. It's the details that make this scene such a joy to watch: Benioff opens with a wide shot of the river and the city walls, a really beautiful landscape shot, and then slowly backs away to reveal the horror being inflicted within its walls. The contrast just intensifies the reaction. Oh, and while we're on Astapor, how about the Harpy, eh? That shot was fucking magnificent.

Next bout of praise: Riverrun. Wonderful to see it in the title sequence (it's about time!) and just about everything about these scenes was absolutely top drawer. Some excellent detail in the mise en scene. They've really done a superb job of bringing Riverrun to life. As expected, Clive Russell is just a joy to watch as the Blackfish and I expect him to be a major draw for future episodes (and seasons!) Tobias Menzies is also great as poor, poor Edmure, who gets something of a harder time of it than in the novels, but I'm okay with that. It gave Richard Madden a chance to flex his acting chops as much put-upon Robb Stark. And then there's the Cat/Blackfish scene, in which Michelle Fairley puts in her best work in the series to date. A genuinely moving two minutes of television.

Right... what else? The Small Council meeting. An exercise in masterful comic timing, the effectiveness of minimalist writing and the skill of the GoT cast. Everyone is brilliant in this scene, and it just illustrates the power plays and extent of Tywin's influence so well. The looks on Varys and Cersei's faces are absolutely priceless and as usual, Peter Dinklage is just a delight. Elsewhere, we have some great stuff with Arya and the Brotherhood, albeit rather fleeting, with touching exchanges with Hot Pie (an example of something that isn't in the books but is actually really well done) and of course, cracking dialogue between the Hound and Anguy. There's Theon's escape, which I don't want to touch on too much for fear of spoiling things, but suffice to say, I like where this is going and that they haven't toned down the brutality too much, and a nice glimpse of Stannis and Melisandre. There are some who have objected to Stannis's portrayal as out of sorts with the novels here but I don't agree. He's desperate and he's clinging to the only possibility he sees for victory. It would appear, though, that his strand is going to be season three's Arya/Dany season two, in that it will move away significantly from the novels. To be fair, I think this is no bad thing; Stannis doesn't actually get all that much to do in part one of ASOS and if they're doing what I think they're doing with this story, I reckon it'll make for some cracking TV (the clue is in Mel's comment that 'there are others with your blood in their veins' (or words to that effect)).

The only negative, I felt, was the whole 'Pod gets laid' sequence which, while setting up some important narrative stands in the dialogue (the Iron Bank of Braavos, Tyrion being made Master of Coin), felt somewhat gratuitous and unnecessary. Oh! I forgot some more positives: Jon/Mance was nice (especially "I'm going to light the biggest fire the North has ever seen!") but what about the Craster's Keep stuff, huh? Some beautiful, beautiful direction there. Cracking dialogue again (Craster is deliciously vicious) and wonderfully subtle script decisions that add a shit tonne to the scene: the reveal of the gender of Gilly's baby and the subsequent horror (show, don't tell), Craster being able to sense that this is a very different Night's Watch to the one who visited him last season etc. Just great, great stuff. So yeah, a solid 9/10 (with half taken off for Pod). Very encouraging. Cannot wait for next week - guys, I reckon we're in for some big moments if the novels are any guide. So stoked!

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Gigging history: stats

This is by no means entirely accurate, given that my memory of these things pre-2005 is a little hazy and that I don't think I have tickets from everything I've ever attended to verify, but I've done a little calculating, with the help of and the stubs I do have, and I've come up with the following statistics in respect of my gigging history.

So... it would appear that I've been to a total of 450 shows since 1998, although, tellingly, 390 of those were between 2006 and 2012.

I've attended gigs in 31 different towns/cities, 2 counties (that'll be here and the good ol' US of A) and at a whopping 120 different venues (O2 Academy Newcastle is the most attended... 86 shows there, with another 30 if you include Academy 2).

The 'cities' leaderboard (i.e. no. of gigs attended per city) is currently as follows:

1. Newcastle - 230
2. Manchester - 61
3. London - 50
4. Leeds - 31
5. Glasgow - 11

The 'bands/artists' leaderboard (i.e. no of times I've seen them play) is currently as follows. Note - festival performances are not included in the tally.

1. Manic Street Preachers - 23
2. Frank Turner - 20
3. Alkaline Trio - 17
3. Idlewild - 17
5. Brand New - 9
5. My Chemical Romance - 9
7. Bloc Party - 8
8. The Gaslight Anthem - 7
8. Jimmy Eat World - 7
10. We Are Scientists - 6

Fascinating stuff, huh?

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

TV reviews: Homeland 206-212

206: 'A Gettysburg Address'
After the game-changing events of New Car Smell and Q+A, you could be forgiven for thinking that A Gettysburg Address might take its foot off the pedal, so to speak, and that we could be in for a slightly less bumpy (and thrilling) ride. Not so. Homeland maintains the pace almost effortlessly this week with a a superb script that plays wonderfully with Brody's new-found status as CIA informant, and makes effective use of the lack of trust we have in the character. There are top notch performances all round, a genuine sense of mystery and foreboding and, of course, that final sequence of events which ups the dramatic tension tenfold. (9)
207: 'The Clearing'
And the award for weakest episode of Homeland's second season goes to The Clearing for featuring, as its two central narrative strands, Brody's political machinations (relatively humdrum) and the hit and run fiasco involving Dana and Finn (the epitome of mind-numbing). In a season with only 12 episodes, it's a shame that there apparently isn't even story to render filler hours like this obsolete; really, looking back at this now at year's end, we could completely remove The Clearing from the season and it would still work as a whole... and that's definitely not a good sign in a drama like this. The problem, really, is that it's difficult to drum up any interest. The only strand that's remotely intriguing is Saul's encounter with Aileen and even that's carried largely by Mandy Patenkin's extraordinary acting chops. Ultimately, though, it's a pointless exercise plot-wise, even if there are some lovely character moments. Relatively ineffectual. (5)
208: 'I'll Fly Away'
The good stuff first: Damian Lewis is absolutely first-rate as a man on the edge, torn between the various conflicting, exceedingly complex and stressful aspects of his life, trying to contain his ever-burgeoning web of lies and deceit and credit to him, he genuinely looks like he's about to break at any moment (and indeed, he very nearly does). Saul and Quinn's reactions to Carrie and Brody's night of hot passion are just stellar. The final sequences in, um, the middle of nowhere are as tense and dramatic as any we've seen all year. But (and it's a big but), then there's the problematic stuff. Biggest bug bear first: Carrie and Brody AGAIN? Really? So soon? Ploughing each other like there's no tomorrow? Is nobody else thoroughly fed up of the excruciatingly selfish and self-absorbed relationship that these two have? Brody, YOU'RE MARRIED FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. YOU HAVE CHILDREN. Carrie, THIS MAN IS A TERRORIST. Some will say this is a symptom of the show's multi-facetedness; that's it's all the better for being able to show these less pleasant sides of human nature. And that's fine. Just do it in a manner that doesn't feel like your head's being repeatedly batted against a brick wall. Homeland, you could learn a thing or two from Game of Thrones. And then, of course, there's Dana and Finn's hit and run which, you know, is just tired now. Less of this please. Thanks. (7)

209: 'Two Hats'
Another stellar episode, driven by a focused, suspenseful narrative that plays cleverly on the audience's uncertainty regarding Brody's allegiances to a foster ambiguity at every turn... perhaps where there actually isn't any. Neglecting to reveal the minutiae of Brody and Nazir's conversations is a stroke of genius as it fills every subsequent scene in the run-up to Roya's capture with a potent mistrust. There's also some wonderfully intriguing stuff with Quinn and Estes that promises to build to a riveting climax by season's end and, thankfully, very little Carrie/Brody schmaltz. While not reaching the lofty heights of New Car Smell or Q+A, Two Hats is nevertheless a thoroughly engaging episode. (9)
210: 'Broken Hearts'
Oh, Homeland, how droll you are. That episode title is probably the worst pun we've seen all year. There have been cries of shark jumping in relation to this particular, controversial installment of our favourite terrorism drama and understandably so; the idea that Nazir's dastardly master-plan was to remotely access the Vice President's ticker and, um, upload some malware is so preposterous, even Tom Clancy wouldn't dare write it. It also smells a little of a diversion, something to distract from Nazir's main purpose, but even so, it still remains the most unbelievable event to have occurred in the show during the course of its run. But then, it isn't really worth getting all that hung up on; it's daft, sure, but it gives us a great death scene and it leads us to some very nice, tense interplay between Brody, Nazir and a bound-and-gagged (or not so much... seriously, when are bad guys going to learn to put their prisoners IN EMPTY ROOMS?) Carrie. There are also a few delicious Saul/Estes scenes and, of course, THAT decision of Jess's. Ridiculous at times, yes, but entertaining all the same. (7)
211: 'In Memoriam'
My my, that Dana, she's one troubled child, isn't she? I mean, SHE'S DROPPING MILK EVERYWHERE! THERE'S SOMETHING DESPERATELY WRONG WITH THIS FAMILY! With the exception of that particularly daft little nugget, In Memoriam is a mainly entertaining episode, picking up where last week's instalment left off in the 24 absurdity stakes by having Nazir hide away in a back room in the building that's supposedly been scoured from top to bottom by trained officials, and only Carrie realises. Still, it makes for edge-of-the-seat television, and Nazir's death (suicide? Hmm...) is brilliantly realised. In the Brody camp, things continue to fall apart with delicious aplomb and all involved get a chance to show off their acting chops. I'm not entirely excited by where this appears to be going - Nick's just gonna leave Jess? And his kids? And go hump Carrie? Selfish, much? - but at least there's some damn fine writing along the way. And let's give credit where credit's due to the actors playing Saul and Roya for some stellar turns in their respective, all-too-brief scenes. (8)

212: 'The Choice'
Judging by the reactions plastered all over fan forums and the mainstream media's depressingly one-note reviews, it would appear that I'm in the minority in not thinking that The Choice heralds Homeland's 'return to glory', so to speak, and that it's an Emmy-worthy 65 minutes of television. Sure, there are some superb moments here; effectively, the final third of the episode is a behemoth of tension, suspense, shock, horror and surprise, with the bombing of Walden's funeral beautifully juxtaposed with Nazir's burial at sea, some truly stunning visuals and, of course, that final scene, but the remaining 66% plays far too much like a drab soap opera for this reviewer's liking. Sure, Gansa and Steihm are creating the 'calm before the storm' in order to wrong foot us but the problem is just how hum-drum all of this. With the exception of some excellent scenes for Saul, and Quinn's confrontation with Estes, the narrative plods along at a decidedly sluggish pace, asking such thrilling questions as 'what will Brody say to Mike?', 'will Carrie leave the CIA?' (um, duh) and 'how many times can two extremely selfish people have sweaty sex in a cabin in the woods without feeling a semblance of guilt?' The Carrie/Brody relationship really has gone beyond the point of no return and the more it's rammed down our throats, the less sympathy is evoked for either character. I mean Christ, Carrie you're banging a terrorist! A married terrorist! Who's just left his wife and children! Do you both have no shame? Here's hoping the shake-up towards episode's end results in less of this gumf in year three... although judging from fan reaction to the couple, they'll probably be back together by episode two. Or at the very least, Skype wanking while Quinn listens in. Or something. (6)

Monday, 31 December 2012

TV reviews: Fringe 505-510

505: 'An Origin Story'
Another intense episode and one that takes the show, and particularly Joshua Jackson's character, to some decidedly dark places. Fringe once again provides its stellar cast with the opportunity to flex their acting muscles and they do not disappoint; Noble, Torv and Jackson knocking home-run after home-run out of the park. (9)

506: 'Through the Looking Glass and What Walter Found There'
What initially feels rather like an unnecessary curveball looks likely to be one of the most pivotal episodes of this final season. Through the Looking Glass and What Walter Found There has come under some criticism for failing to convey the same sense of urgency as the episodes surrounding it and for taking its time with its storytelling but to be honest, it's all the better for it. There's an otherworldly quality to the hour, magnified largely by Jon Cassar's sublime direction, which makes for compelling viewing, and it's intriguing to see some of the pieces of the overall plan come together. Plus, there's fan-squee moments galore. Refreshingly different. (8)

507: 'Five-Twenty-Ten'
That John Noble and Joshua Jackson have yet to even be nominated for Emmys for their work in Fringe is just mindboggling. For the umpteenth time this season, and indeed, the last five years, they provide some of the finest character acting you'll see on contemporary television in Five-Twenty-Ten and they do so without overshadowing the gravitas of the plot that surrounds them. Jackson in particular is just too good as Observer Peter, perfectly capturing the mannerisms of our favourite baldies. And let's take a moment to commend Anna Torv too, particularly for that crushing scene in which she realises what Peter has become. Keep going like this Fringe and you might just survive your entire run without jumping the shark... (9)

508: 'The Human Kind'
Possibly spoke too soon there, guys. Okay, so The Human Kind doesn't exactly constitute a jumping of the shark but it is, certainly, the weakest episode of the season thus far. The quintessential problem is the flimsiness of the plot; Olivia's story, while containing a few nice dialogue exchanges, amounts to little more than 'pick up a truck, get kidnapped and escape', Peter's cat-and-mouse game with Windmark feels too slow and Walter and Astrid are a little under-served. That being said, Torv and Jackson are superb in the final scene, perfectly selling what is ultimately a rather crass means of getting around the whole 'Peterver' problem. (6)

509: 'Black Blotter'
Where season two's Brown Betty failed, so our final season's Black Blotter triumphs by striking the perfect balance between leftfield kookiness and, you know, moving the story along. With superb production values and brilliant writing, the production staff manage to realistically convey Walter's acid trip without veering too far into the ridiculous; using Nina and Carla as the 'good' and 'bad' angels on Dr. Bishop's shoulder is a neat touch and of course, the Monty Python homage is just fantastic. Crucially, we actually make logical and fulfilling progress in the development of the season arc and, on top of all this, John Noble gets to act his socks off. Again. Brilliant stuff. (9)

510: 'Anomaly XB-678346'
With only four episodes to go, Fringe feels a little like it's treading water in Anomaly XB-678346, withholding vital pieces of the puzzle where it could perhaps be teasing us a little further, but this is ultimately a minor quibble. Once again, the narrative is well structured, there are a slue of sublime character moments to get our teeth into and there's Anomaly XB-678346 who, despite having no lines of dialogue, manages to tug at all of our well-worn heartstrings. Nina's death is expertly handled and the team's reactions, particularly Walter's, eminently satisfying. And hell, even if the fact that Donald is September was fairly obvious many moons ago, it still makes for a pleasing cliffhanger. (8)

TV reviews: Supernatural 805 - 809

Okay, okay, so I've been somewhat neglectful of the ol' television reviews of late. Sue me, I relocated to a new city, a little under 300 miles from where I used to live. That's London from Newcastle, for anyone that doesn't know. I'm making a promise to myself (I'm not calling this a New Year's Resolution, such things are dangerous) to keep Screenaged Kicks regularly updated in 2013 so hopefully, I'll be a bit more... on the ball, shall we say. And you'll actually get some comprehensive reviews as opposed to one or two sentences. Which is what I'm about to throw at you now. Yes, it isn't ideal; sure, it's a bit lazy but whatever, I don't have the time to catch up in the manner to which you may be accustomed. So here's the remaining episodes of the various TV shows that I watch, rated out of 10, with a few words on each. Deal.


805: 'Blood Brother'
From the sublime to the redundant in a matter of minutes, Blood Brother has the unfortunate task of marrying a compelling, character-building storyline (Benny's back story and how Dean deals with it) to a monotonous one (Sam's year of retirement). Fortunately, the good generally outweighs the bad and the episode as a whole comes out as mainly satisfying, but if Carver continues down this cliche-fest path with Sam, he may obliterate our interest in the character entirely. (7)

806: 'Southern Comfort'
To put it bluntly, the inclusion of Garth saves this episode from crushing mediocrity. DJ Qualls is once again superb as the ultimate foil for Sam and Dean and his positioning as 'the new Bobby' is both entertaining and logical. The main thrust of the narrative is passable and has a nice twist towards the end (ballsy of Supernatural to use the Unknown Soldier) but the continued punctuation of the present day story with Sam's woozy, and shockingly lame, flashbacks is just tiresome. Drop 'em already. No one cares. (6)

807: 'A Little Slice of Kevin'
For the first time in weeks, Supernatural switches to fifth gear, ditches (most) of the Sam/Amelia plotline and actually bothers itself about Kevin Tran and it's mostly better for it. There's a real sense of urgency about A Little Slice of Kevin that's been sorely lacking in weeks past... and of course, Castiel makes his triumphant return, which automatically bumps up the score by a point, and Mark Sheppard's in the mix, which makes that two. The only disappointing aspect is the whole 'Kevin's mom makes a deal with a witch' thread which, as well as containing some extremely hamfisted acting, is utterly nonsensical and completely out of character. (8) 

808: 'Hunteri Heroici'
A nice concept, undermined somewhat by the inclusion of yet another shockingly predictable (and depressingly dull) strand of the Sam/Amelia storyline. While we appreciate Carver's attempt to prioritise character development, the show needs to do so in an interesting way; and having Sam meet the disapproving Dad really doesn't achieve that. There are some nice set pieces among the 'monster of the week' (if you can call it that) storyline and Misha Collins gets some brilliant one-liners as hunter wannabe Cas but there's nothing here that really stands out. (5)

809: 'Citizen Fang'
A horribly lacklustre mid-season finale that's woefully thin on plot and depressingly high on flogging a dead horse. Benny's story is a lame retread of Blood Brother, his pivotal character moments are ruined by an appalling performance from Jon Gries as Martin, and Sam's thread is so asinine, I'm beating my head against a brick wall in an effort to forget about it. Sorely lacking. (2)

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

13 for 2013

13 albums to be super-excited about in the new year (in no particular order...)

1. THE NATIONAL (release: TBC)

2. FRIGHTENED RABBIT: Pedestrian Verse (release: 11/02)

3. BIFFY CLYRO: Opposites (release: 28/01)

4. EVERYTHING EVERYTHING: Arc (release: 14/01)

5. ARCADE FIRE (release: TBC)

6. CHVRCHES (release: TBC)

7. YEAH YEAH YEAHS (release: Spring)

8. BRITISH SEA POWER (release: April)

9. FOALS: Holy Fire (release: 11/02)


11. THE 1975 (release: Spring)


13. VILLAGERS: Awayland (release: 14/01)


Monday, 24 December 2012

Worst 10 Singles of 2012

Forget Taylor Swift and that 'Gangnam Style' rubbish, THESE are the real atrocities of 2012, the 10 tracks that took themselves seriously despite their distinct lack of redeeming features. Read on and listen at your peril...

10. JESSIE WARE: Wildest Moments

Every music critic and his mother appeared to go inexplicably ape-shit for Jessie Ware in 2012; heralded as 'the saviour of R 'n' B' by NME, Pitchfork, Drowned in Sound and Arselicker's Monthly, the London-born soulstress was promptly propped up on a pedestal so high you'd need a thirty foot crane to knock her off. This particular nugget of super-saccharine cowshit was typically singled out as proof that she's the next Whitney Houston (or something) when in fact, she isn't even the next Des'ree. Chocked to the brim with useless cliches and irritating in the extreme, 'Wildest Moments' deserves nothing other than your unwavering contempt. No offense.

9. SPECTOR: Friday Night, Don't Ever Let It End

Okay, so this isn't actually a terrible song in itself. Taken on its own, set apart from everything else about the band and excluding all social and cultural context, 'Friday Night, Don't Ever Let It End' is a fairly passable, if disappointingly inoffensive, indie tune. It earns its place in the list, however, by being such an unashamed attempt to replicate the success of The Vaccines. Everything about Spector just reeks of record industry desperation: the slightly oddball look, the meaningless lyrics, the half-arsed hooks. This is the sound of a label, and a band, who've eyed up the competition and decided they want a quick and easy slice of the pie. Instead of carving out their own place in the weird and wonderful world of pop music, Spector try too hard to occupy everyone else's, and in so doing, fall hopelessly flat. If they bothered to write some halfway decent songs (actually, you know, PUTTING SOME EFFORT IN), then perhaps we'd all wake up to their charms. As it is, their woeful laziness is sending us to sleep. Wake us up when they disappear off the face of the planet in a year or so, okay?

8. AWOLNATION: Kill Your Heroes

While Spector yearn to be The Vaccines, the members of the appallingly-named AWOLNATION pray to their respective Gods each and every night that they'll wake up in the morning and be 30 Seconds to Mars. Thankfully, God or time or whatever's controlling this messy ol' world we know and love has better sense than to elevate these guys (although whether Jared and co deserved global success in the first place is a debatable point for another time). No, AWOLNATION will forever meander along at their own turgid, bloated pace, recording unlistenable tripe that doesn't quite know what it wants to be and consequently ends up sounding like nothing at all. 'Kill Your Heroes' is a perfect illustration of the validity of that age old adage 'too many cooks spoil the broth'. Everything is thrown into the pot and barely stirred, resulting, frankly, in a colossally unpleasant mess. Another one to consign to the bargain bin in, oh, six months.


Oh, how we all wish it were, pfnar, pfnar. All joking aside though, isn't it about time that Black Veil Brides stopped punishing us all for whatever terrible offense we've clearly committed to be deserving of having this garbage rammed down our throats and just retired to those mansions they've (probably) bought in Pacific Palisades? We just can't take much more.

6. NO DOUBT: Settle Down

Eleven years, guys. ELEVEN GOD DAMN YEARS. That's over four thousand days, 96,000 hours... and this is the best you could come up with? Really? Look, no one's denying the fact that bands change, their sound evolves, and that you can't really expect them to churn out the same sort of urgently anthemic ska-punk tunes that they did when they were wee 'uns. What we can (and do) expect is that this 'progression' is not equal parts inane and vomit-inducing. 'Settle Down', sadly, is exactly that; a track so achingly monotonous, it wasn't even a D-side to Rock Steady. Unsurprising, then, that the follow-up single only managed to shift 680 copies in its first week. Exit No Doubt, stage left, with tumbleweed.

5. LMFAO: Sorry For Party Rockin'

They're not though, are they? LMFAO really do not want to apologise for their penchant for 'partying' and 'rocking'. In reality, they're rubbing it in our faces... and not in a good, Andrew W.K.-type way. No, these walking toilet bowls of diarrhetic human excrement take great pride in making music so unremittingly awful that even your 3 year old nephew would rather chew his own face off than listen to it. They want you to squirm at those auto-tuned vocals; they want your skin to crawl when those meaningless grunts, gargles and various other bizarre noises kick in; and they want your head to explode whenever the lazy beat begins. LMFAO take pride in their shittiness, so the best thing we can do is ignore them and, like an irritating six-year-old repeating everything you say, hope they tire and just go away. Probably best not to write too many missives on how terrible they are then... whoops.

4. NICKI MINAJ: Stupid Hoe

While Nicki straddles the line between bubblegum pop and super serious artiste (she was on the bill for T in the Park after all, but there again, so were The Proclaimers), this particular crapfest was just so unbearable that we simply couldn't ignore it. A song with virtually no redeeming features whatsoever, 'Stupid Hoe' careers along on a trajectory of ever-increasing awfulness, using THE WORLD'S WORST BACKBEAT to catastrophic effect while Nicki whines on about someone or other being a 'stupid hoe'. You spend the first minute of the song hoping, praying for a change of direction, for the music to do something else, the next 30 seconds awash in a sea of despair as you realise IT ISN'T GOING TO CHANGE and then next 2 minutes vomiting up your insides while desperately clamouring for the 'off' switch. But hey, at least it gave us Tranny Minaj...

3. KID ROCK: Cucci Galore

Oh come on, Kid. You can do better than this, surely? Where previous efforts have made their mark on the Worst Singles of the Year list by virtue of their mind-boggling awfulness, 'Cucci Galore' is here because, well, it's just so damn half-arsed. And that's not something we ever imagined we'd write about the former American Bad Ass. Even during his 'All Summer Long' phase, at least Kid was making music so painful that you longed for a full-frontal lobotomy right after listening to it. Whether he was murdering Lynyrd Skynyrd with a chainsaw or rhyming 'punk rock' with 'hip hop' with 'Fort Knox' with 'Kid Rock', at least there was a desire there to be the absolute worst. With 'Cucci Galore', it feels like Kid just can't be bothered; the ingredients are there - the lyrics about himself and, er, nothing else, the bland mix of tired rock riffs with outdated hip-hop beats, hell, he's even wearing his cowboy hat and, um, cowboy bling in the video, but there's something desperately, desperately lacking. The rhymes just aren't as laughable, and if anything, this makes the whole thing that much worse. Instead of a hilariously bad Kid Rock, we have a boring Kid Rock... and that's something too horrible to contemplate. It's probably time to hang up your hat, guy. You can't be a Kid Rock forever... oh wait...

2. THE OFFSPRING: Cruisin' California

Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. Clearly reeling from the relative indifference that met 2008's 'Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace' (notably, their best record in years), The Offspring decided that, instead of being content with the millions they've accumulated over the years from their impressive back catalogue, they would throw their artistic integrity right out of the nearest window and record something so hopelessly, laughably desperate that it would ruin their reputations forever. All in the name of hoping to make a quick buck. 'Cruisin' California' is a textbook lesson in selling your soul and will doubtless be used as a prime example of when not to listen to your record company in years to come. The lyrics falling vacuously out of Dexter Holland's mouth are asinine, hollow, empty, striving for some sort of 'instant party vibe' (perhaps a la later Weezer) but actually sounding like your Dad, nay, your Grandad, trying to talk in text-speak. The rapping (Heaven help us, I actually typed that) is unlistenable, the 'party girl' backing vocals woeful, the music a turgid trawl through all of the cliches that 'Pretty Fly (For A White Guy)' so expertly parodied. If 'Cruisin' California' was an attempt to replicate the successes of that particular gem, it got just about everything wrong. A misfire so bad, The Offspring's career may never recover. Truly, truly shocking.

1. MUSE: Madness

It pains us to write these words, it really, truly does, but 2012, among other things, will forever be remembered as the year in which Muse completely lost the plot. Not content with writing just the one painfully embarrassing cliche-fest for the Olympics (stand up 'Survival', you so very nearly made this list), Matt, Chris and Dom proceeded to pen 12 more gargantuan shitfests and released them all as one diabolical album. September's 'The 2nd Law' was the biggest disappointment since The Stone Roses's 'The Second Coming' (or, for fans of controversy, Radiohead's 'Kid A'), for a whole variety of reasons, not the least of which was its oh-so-depressing blandness. Never before had Muse sounded quite so MOR and 'Madness', the first single proper, was the perfect encapsulation of that. Sounding not unlike something you might be subjected to on an early Sunday afternoon on Radio 2, the song saunters along on the back of a terrible Craig David beat, Matt warbling about 'memories' in 'his mind', while Dom and Chris quite literally do nothing for the majority of the song's four minutes. Oh wait, no, Chris gets to make that fingernails-down-chalkboard 'warb warb' noise with some hipster instrument or other. The whole thing is an exercise in mundanity and not even the all-too-temporary mid-song guitar riff can save it. And while 'Cruisin' California' and even 'Cucci Galore' may be worse songs in themselves, 'Madness' tops the list because Muse can do so, so, so much better than this. This is the band who gave us 'Stockholm Syndrome', 'Knights of Cydonia', 'New Born', 'Uprising', 'Sunburn', 'Plug-In Baby', 'Hysteria', 'Time Is Running Out', 'Starlight'... the list is endless. The band who made us believe in British rock again, whose music threatened to rip our faces off with its sheer intensity. In 2012, they could barely make us shrug a shoulder. What happened, guys? What happened?

Top 10 Gigs of 2012

10. ANDREW W.K., HMV Forum, London (12/04/12)

9. THE FUTUREHEADS (ACOUSTIC AND ACAPELLA), Shepherd's Bush Empire, London (19/09/12)

8. DRY THE RIVER, Fibbers, York (26/10/12)

7. STARS, Relentless Garage, London (07/12/12)

6.  BLOC PARTY, KOKO, London (21/06/12)

5. LOS CAMPESINOS!, Islington Assembly Hall, London (15/12/12)

4. METRIC, The Ritz, Manchester (07/07/12)

3. FRIGHTENED RABBIT, 93 Feet East, London (18/09/12)

No one recorded the 93 Feet East gig, apparently. Shame.

2. FRANK TURNER AND THE SLEEPING SOULS, 02 Academy Newcastle (17/11/12)

1. BRAND NEW, Camden Roundhouse, London (11 and 12/02/12)