Chico And Rita

This animated film opens in modern day Havana, Cuba, but we are soon transported back to the beautifully drawn cityscape in 1948 where Chico is a confident pianist out on a night dancing who is captivated by the beautiful singer Rita, although she is not so keen.

The film follows the story of Chico and Rita, which mainly consists of laborious cycles of Chico stalking Rita, who plays hard to get but relents and is then heartbroken by Chico’s stupid actions. Away from the main characters and about midway through the film a man called Chano Pozo appears. He is fantastic and brings a bit of comedy and a change of style, but sadly he is no more than a cameo.

The background drawings and cityscapes are beautiful. The foreground people are not quite as good: still nice but they are very strangely animated and appear to be disconnected with the backgrounds, floating around quite oddly. It’s a style that might look unique for the dancing scenes, but looks lacking elsewhere.

It’s alright.

2 on 5

Directed by: Tono Errando, Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal Starring: Lenny Mandel, Limara Meneses
UK release: 19th November 2010


El Camino – The Black Keys

El Camino - The Black Keys

Now that’s an intriguing cover. El camino is Spanish for the path or the way which doesn’t seem to fit with the photo of the MPV. It almost says ‘el camion’, which is Spanish for ‘the van’, which is a bit closer. And apparently there was a Chevrolet el camino model in the states years ago which was a sort of sports coupe pickup truck.

Well, anyway, that’s what was going through my head as the album started with the opener ‘Lonely Boy’ which I’d heard and liked on BBC 6 Music before the album was released. It’s a great fast-paced blues pop song and had me eagerly awaiting the album. I’ve been a fan of The Black Keys for quite a while now and they’ve evolved from simple, dirty lo-fi blues to this – their 7th, still a blues album but with much more layering and a much broader range of influencing styles.

It’s still essentially a blues album though – most of the songs are about his girl, lost or otherwise, and a few of the tracks are what you’d call standard blues rock.

Second up is ‘Dead And Gone’, another pacy tune which starts with a lot of backing vocals which is a bit of a feature of the album. ‘Gold On The Ceiling’ is more glam rocky, ‘Little Black Submarine’ is a great blues rock ballad which unfortunately means ‘Money Maker’ seems a little brash in response. ‘Run Right Back’ has a nice wailing riff, ‘Sister’ is a great chugger, ‘Hell Of A Season’ a nice stop-start tune, as is ‘Stop Stop’, the chorus of ‘Nova Baby’ sounds a bit like the black keys do the kaiser chiefs, but the lyrics are less uplifting (“all my precious time, you’ve wasted ’cause you, don’t know what you want”) and finally ‘Mind Eraser’ speaks of “don’t let it be over” to close the album.

It’s over quickly and has you wanting to spin it again straight away. Some of the songs are excellent, a couple aren’t great, but they’re all good. A few times you’re left wishing they’d not finished a song quite so early – some nice ideas could have done with a little more space, but it’s a very good album.

Worth checking this out if you haven’t heard of them yet and I hope I can catch them live somewhere.

Flight Of The Conchords, Wembley Arena, 18th May 2010

FOTC, Wembley

2 guys from New Zealand who actually manage to make comedy songs that elusive thing – lasting. Their two HBO series’s are funny and full of brilliant music and I had high hopes for a night at Wembley Arena back in May.

Getting to Wembley Arena itself is pretty easy and after grabbing some beers we took our seats perfectly central but right on the back wall. A couple of big screens either side of the stage helped with detail!

Arj Barker who plays Dave in the series was the warm-up stand-up and did a great job and was very funny but the place really lit up when Bret and Jermaine came out performing ‘Too Many DIcks On The Dancefloor’.

After their initial fluster they settled down into their understated, acoustic, on-stools mix of familiar songs and banter. Discussing their ‘crazy’ lives on the road (free muffins, getting stuck in a lift) they tell stories they must have told hundreds of times before but still with enthusiasm and humour.

The set lasted 2 hours or so (I was thankful of the seats!) and was full of classics as well as a couple of new songs, one of which was all about woo-ing a lady in medieval times. Very funny. They also got the crowd involved singing along in some of the songs and had an encore after a quick costume change at the end.

A great evening of music and comedy and if you don’t know who they are well worth checking out.

5 on 5

Them Crooked Vultures – Them Crooked Vultures

Them Crooked Vultures Cover

A rock supergroup – Josh Homme (QOTSA, Kyuss), Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters) and John Paul Jones (Led Zep) which is for all intents and purposes the next QOTSA album (Dave Grohl drumming on the excellent ‘Songs For The Deaf’ album in 2002).

I first heard the album on the band’s website when they streamed it a week before release and straight away got addicted to ‘Bandoliers’ – it’s the riff as well as the amazing drumming and structure of the song (it breaks down to then come back with Josh shouting ‘Just to let you know, this is goodbye’) and it reminded me of ‘You Can’t Quit Me, Baby’ from QOTSA’s debut album. When I bought the album on the Monday ‘Scumbag Blues’ followed (with another excellent Homme-style riff) and now so has ‘No One Loves Me & Neither Do I’ and a few others are joining them.

It’s hard to review an album you’ve been looking forward to for ages in an objective way, so I’m going to compare it to ‘Songs For The Deaf’ and ‘Lullabies to Paralyze’ which were albums that I got lost in for months and would give 5 on 5 to, despite some shallower moments.

I’m going to give it a 4 on 5 for now, but with an option to reassess in a few months!

Listen to it on their website:

Josh Homme, Dave Grohl, John Paul Jones
Released – 16th November 2009