Bought these next 3 CDs cheap in the second hand section. It was a couple of days after crimbo. I was actually looking for a new turntable -itís a long story. But they were sold out, and the CD shop was just about next door. I knew I wasnít going to make it, but well it was still crimbo - to an extent. So theyíre a few months old, but you know how it is sometimes - you have to wait till you have the cash.

 

First out of the bag is Tribute To Nothing with This Is Freedom? Seen them live a few times now, and well, itís not entirely clicked. Theyíre good, but feel a bit too workmanlike. The songs donít slap you round the face. So I thought spending time getting to know them through the CD might help. So will it? Yeah kind of. I think that initial feeling persists. The songs donít feel inspired, or at least they donít inspire me. But theyíre solid. Thereís some decent enough stuff here, Enemy, the single is still my favourite. It manages to pack the clout, great chorus and everything into a song thatís in the face and engages you. Thereís a few other moments on here that also stand out for me, the title track, Youíll See Me Rising and Understand, but overall too many of the tracks just meander by.

As the final track ends, thereís an ominous silence. The track time is still counting, but thereís nothing emerging from the speakers. Hmm, what could this mean? Surely not? Surely thereís not one of those cunning "hidden" tracks to surprise me with. Letís skip through shall we? Ah, 5 minutes later and as I skip fast forward esque sounds emerge from my speakers. Must mean thereís that hidden track. So surprised I nearly shat myself and thought Christmas had come again only a matter of days after the first time. Ah well, Iíve wasted enough of my time fast forwarding to it. Iíll not bother wasting any more time by listening to it. You know me, I canít stand hidden bloody tracks.

It may be wrong of me to say so, but at the moment my support for TTN lies more in what theyíre doing to promote the scene in this country via their Lockjaw Records label, the Helping You Back To Work compilations and their support of the likes of Monkey Boy and dBh. I really want to get behind them for their music as well, but at the moment itís hard. Thereís so much to listen to, so little time and so some get left behind. But Iím pretty sure TTN will persevere and continue, and who knows, one day maybe Iíll see the spark.

Next up is Zen Guerilla with Trance States In Tongues. Canít say too much about this in that part of the deal for it being cheap was a missing booklet. But the CD is there, and thatís the most important thing. First release for them on Sub Pop. Never been able to get my head round blues music. Boring. And the blues is kind of what Zen Guerilla deal in. But speeded up, and made more scuzzy and dirty. For me it makes it more palatable, such as on the likes of Preacherís Promise, Cold Duck(check), where itís kind of Motorhead like. Uptempo and to the point, even though fundamentally the music underneath is the same as has gone before a lot of the time. But then a track like no Ghetto City Version or Magpie are more traditional, and they get boring for me. Dunno, this ainít bad, and only last 35 minutes, so it may get a few more plays. I can live with it, but I can live without it. If itíd been any longer, it probably wouldnít have got many more plays though, because towards the end my attention begins to wane, and the fingers get itchy to put something else on. Still, at least it was cheap.

And lastly in this batch we have Dream City Film Club with Stranger Blues. Who by the time you read this it would appear have self-destructed and are no more. I donít know if thatís good news or bad. See, theyíre another band Iíve not really managed to get yet, but each time thereís a new release, Iím tempted to buy it. They keep on telling me to. Itís the voices in the head, theyíre trying to corrupt me. Or maybe Iíve got more money than sense. If only that were true. Or it could be that they play the sort of music that Iím increasingly getting into at the moment. As a lot of the "nu-metal" and "hardcore" becomes stale (thereís some great bands, and great new ones coming through, but a lot just exist for the moment), then I go looking in new directions. Itís happened so many times over the years. Cos Iím a sellout and not "real". But at the moment this sort of moody, atmospheric, to an extent self-indulgent music is interesting me. Itís almost like itís a total reaction to some of the other stuff going on at the moment. A 6 track mini-album, weighing in at 30 minutes, first up is the title track, Stranger Blues all sparkling guitars, affected vocals. Itís that laid back sleazy backroom sound. Strangely compelling, it feels more immediate than any of their other material that Iíve heard. Itís almost like an updated blues, especially in the lyrics. Another Ones Skin is driven along by itís scratchy riff, simple but effective, before we reach one of the finest moments on here, Close Watch showing the fragility of the vocals of Michael Sheehy in their best light.

Nobodyís Fault But Mine is a lilting and uplifting moment, the band on this release managing to switch between the sleazy and these quiet affecting moments. In fact the quieter moments are dominating, maybe itís whatís tiping it positively for me. All of a sudden itís begining to make more sense to me, and all too late as it appears now that theyíve imploded and slip up. A number of people have championed this band for a long time, most of which was flattering to deceive for me, but this is definitely a worthwhile release. And who knows, on the basis of this one, maybe I will be able to make my way through the back catalogue.

My God. I shouldnít complain, cos I contributed by buying one for someone, and have thought of getting one myself and probably will, so that itís more ways for some people not to get in touch with me. Cos yeah, they can be handy. But mobile bloody phones this Xmas. Sheesh. I was buying my groceries yesterday, stood in the queue to pay, and someone behind me in the queue was having a bloody conversation on their new one. Iím so pleased Mabelís doing well love, and yeah, I know, itís been cold, but I donít need to hear your conversation. Really. And then today, I was buying some fruit (yep, on that New Year health drive. I give it a week), and another phone goes off. "Youíll have to go outside love to get a good reception" someone more experienced in these things advises her. I mean, I know they were around before, but yesterday in town, every little git was walking round with a phone glued to their ears or fingering it to see if theyíd got a text message. No, no you havenít. You may have phones, but people donít want to talk to you. Cos you talk inane bollocks. If itís not vital, theyíll ring you tonight, cos like itís cheaper then. God those things are going to get really Ďkin annoying in 2000. Guess the strain of watching New Years Eve morning telly is showing. How many people did it take to plan programmes as downright bloody boring and awful as currently being shown did it take? Mind numbing in their banality. Right, think Iíll just nip out instead and buy me a mobile!