That Swedish crisp brand Estrella has reintroduced the salt & vinegar flavour after trying and failing about ten years ago is cause for celebration if anything! Who needs prawn-flavoured crisps when there's salt and vinegar? British exiles across the length of the country must be rejoicing. And you get them in 300g bags too! I'll be opening one tonight when I'm going to start watching my new Avengers box set, containing the whole of the second series.
Did you know that Dandelion Radio has been continuing the tradition of the Festive 50 that the late Peel used to do at the end of each year? Yes, it's ex-Flatmate (and ex-Rosehip for that matter) Rocker who's been carrying the torch since 2006. And looking at the 2006 and 2007 results, they can do with some more insightful voters! It's a bit early to choose the best songs of 2008, but maybe that just makes it simpler? The School, Vivian Girls and POBPAH got my votes!
'Probably the best fanzine since Chickfactor' - what may that be? Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams of course! Written my Amy Richardson in London, already with three issues out. The latest one includes an interview with Pam Berry and comes with an ace cd compilation including Rocketship, Marine Time Keepers, a new Apple Orchard song and much more.
As you can tell from the picture, I've also seen If... recently along with many other great films. I'd never seen Lindsay Anderson's brilliant 1968 college revolt film before and I enjoyed it immensely. Malcolm McDowell plays a part that in some ways prefigures his character in A Clockwork Orange. The Fantastic Film Festival was on recently in Lund and the first film I went to see there was Peter Greenaway's new creation Nightwatching, about Rembrant van Rijn (played by Martin Freeman!). It's a very beautiful film - the photography reminiscent of Barry Lyndon - and both sad and funny in places. I like the way he's tried to capture the Dutch way of living in olden times by using, what seems to me, very British dialects and sensibilities. The film was followed by a long and rather tedious Q&A with Greenaway, where he gave 10 minute answers to 10 second questions. He came over as a sad, old liberal but maybe that was just one more try at being provocative. You may remember me mentioning Hungarian director Béla Tarr before, and this semester Filmstudion in Lund is going for an extensive retrospective series. I saw one his older films at the festival, called Damnation and shot in 1987, and would again recommend it warmly.
That there's a new Celestial album available from Music Is My Girlfriend (the label) and Lavender is a happy surprise. Celestial is still mainly Andreas Hagman, who also runs Lavender and sometimes posts to Indie-MP3. Dream On that came out on Skipping Stones last year was a very good album but Crystal Heights builds on what were, for me, the strengths of his first album: the clean guitar jangle and the occasional female vocals. There are two guest singers on the new album - Ulrika Nymark and Malin Dahlberg. While the latter has a very pleasant voice, it's rather typical of indiepop and I much more prefer Nymark's huskier vocals, which might even have benefited from more prominent mixing. Overall, the production feels clearer and a bit more airy and the songs feel more thought through. The slight shoegaze leanings of Dream On have been abandoned for a simpler but more effective Razorcuts jangle. It's not too hard imagining Gregory Webster playing on opening track "Preston Park"! Since my favourite is already on their Myspace profile, I don't need to upload anything, hurrah!
As an aside, the cover instantly reminded me of 14 Iced Bears' second album. See the resemblance? And an extra point for the tracklisting on the back, which forms the shape of arrow with a wee swallow as its head. Can't have enough concrete poetry in pop!