Previous month:
May 2017
Next month:
July 2017

BrewDogging #46: Leeds North Street

Jumping the shark[Previously: Bristol, Camden, Newcastle, Birmingham, Shoreditch, Aberdeen, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Kungsholmen, Leeds, Shepherd's Bush, Nottingham, Sheffield, Dog Tap, Tate Modern, Clapham Junction, Roppongi, Liverpool, Dundee, Bologna, Florence, Brighton, DED Angel, Brussels, Soho, Cardiff, Barcelona, Clerkenwell, DogHouse Glasgow, Rome, Castlegate, Leicester, Oslo, Gothenburg, Södermalm, Turku, Helsinki, Gray's Inn Road, Stirling, Norwich, Southampton, Homerton, Berlin, Warsaw]

Just to get this out of the way up front: no, The Belated Birthday Girl and I are not fucking millionaires now, no matter what you've read in the papers.

People have been asking us this since BrewDog's AGM back in April, when James Watt told the massed shareholders that he'd just sold 22% of the company to a venture capital organisation, and that BrewDog was now worth one billion pounds on paper. In the short term, the shareholders could choose to either sell up to 15% of their previously unsellable shares at a new inflated rate, or keep all their shares in for the long haul and get a six pack of beer as a thankyou. (For what it's worth, we went for the beer.)

Despite all the fireworks of the big announcement, it's not really been that great a year for BrewDog. Since the start of 2017, they've closed down two of the bars I've previously reviewed here. Homerton has, to be honest, looked like a shaky proposition from literally the day it opened: but for me, the sadder of the two closures is Turku, which seemed to be doing okay on the event night we visited back in 2016. (There's also been a third bar closure, but that'll require a separate post on its own.)

With all this activity, and very few new bar openings on the horizon, it does colour your experience of visiting a BrewDog bar for the first time: you find yourself consciously looking for signs of ill health, in case it's going to be the next entry on the dead pool. With Leeds North Street, the obvious question to ask is this: does a change of name count as a sign of ill health?

Continue reading "BrewDogging #46: Leeds North Street" »

Simian Substitute Site For June 2017: Monkey Town


Movies: As I've mentioned elsewhere, I've done quite a bit of travelling in the past month, to the extent that I spent 64 hours this May just sitting in planes. That made for a lot of inflight movies, as you can imagine. I'll just mention one here, a German film called Vier Gegen Die Bank (Four Against The Bank). It was released domestically last Christmas: we saw posters for it all over Berlin during our visit, but it was impossible to fit it into our schedule at the time, so thanks, Lufthansa. At first glance, it's a caper movie for our fiscally embuggered times: a disgruntled former bank employee, plus three other guys who've lost all their money thanks to mishandled investments, conspire to get their cash back the hard way. The surprise comes when you discover it's made by Germany's most internationally famous director, Wolfgang Petersen (Das Boot, The Neverending Story, In The Line Of Fire, Troy and many more). He's been very quiet since Poseidon in 2006, and it's curious that he's chosen to come back with a remake of a TV movie he made 40 years ago. It's an enjoyable enough romp, but you sometimes feel that Petersen is hurling much more technical skill at this material than it really deserves. Still, it's worth a look if it ever gets over here.

Music: Time for another song-by-song justification of a Spotify playlist, featuring tracks that have been in my head for one reason or another over the last few months.
1: We start off with the end title theme to Takashi Miike's Blade Of The Immortal, as reviewed here and explicitly referenced here. This is the version that appears in the film, and opens with a magnificent noise like all the cats in hell being tortured simultaneously, so have the volume set high from the outset.
2: Another film-related track, this one at the request of The Belated Birthday Girl, who was delighted to be re-acquainted with it when it turned up on the soundtrack of Colossal. It's a great movie with a cunningly deceptive trailer, and I'll say no more than that.
3: The second Art Of Noise album, In Visible Silence, has just had a welcome 30th anniversary cleanup and re-release. Return to a time when a guest appearance by Max Headroom on your single was considered a plus point.
4: Last time I did one of these I cracked the old "Elbow are releasing their album again" gag. And after that I bought it, and whaddaya know, it's another great one.
5: Still got this one in my head after the BrewDog AGM. It was a revelation when I realised that musically, it's structured in an identical way to the Doors' version of Light My Fire.
6: No, I can't pronounce the title either, but it's the end title song to the other film I reviewed on the most recent Monoglot Movie Club, Shock Wave.
7: Banned on all major radio stations, you say? I remember the days when that used to be a thing to be worried about. Not any more, apparently.
8: I got myself primed for the 50th anniversary re-release of Sgt. Pepper by re-watching the documentary Eight Days A Week on one of my planes, which resulted in three underappreciated tweets. The remix by Giles Martin has done some astonishing things to the album: for example, the end of Mr Kite is no longer a cacophonous riot of fairground noises but has discernable layers to it.
9: The Art Of Noise track is 30 years old this year: the Beatles one is 50: this is 40. Marquee Moon is one of those albums I've always borrowed from other people, and this was the year I finally bought a copy for myself.
10: "We've got the power to be loving each other no matter what happens. We've got the power to do that." Some months a lyric just hits closer to home than usual, and by 'home' in this case I mean 'Manchester'.

Telly: So, four episodes into Twin Peaks season 3, what can we say about it? Well, if David Lynch and Mark Frost didn't want people to compare it against the first two seasons, they shouldn't have called it Twin Peaks. What I suspect people loved most about the original show was its extraordinary mixture of tones, where the blackest tale of abuse and murder was interwoven with sequences of goofy, surreal comedy: taking the cliches of the daytime soap opera and subverting them as much as was possible on 1990s network television. This new incarnation is very much in the style of Lynch's last couple of films: anyone who's seen Mulholland Drive or Inland Empire won't be surprised by the level of darkness on offer here. But the lighter tones - the stuff that actually made it Twin Peaks - while still there, are separated out from the main flow of the narrative and feel tacked on. So far, it's very much the story of Dale Cooper's slow return from the dark place he found himself in at the end of season two, with many of the other regular characters limited to brief walk-ons. There are occasions where Lynch and Frost acknowledge the audience's desire for easy nostalgia (including the perfectly timed use of a familiar bit of music in episode four), and there's a definite frisson from the way that the characters have aged in real time over the last quarter of a century. But for now, this feels like a typical late period Lynch project, and it could have been a lot more surprising than that.

Continue reading "Simian Substitute Site For June 2017: Monkey Town" »