December 3rd, 2009

The End

Well, kind of.
I've decided I'm not really happy with the way this blog has worked out so I've decided to split it up a bit. While this will still have my personal rants and creative pieces, the other will be a daily update on what's happening in my life and everything I'm seeing - a more public photo blog. The Melbourne posts take too long to write up, so I haven't had the time to get them done regularly. By splitting up the blog and changing the format, it means I can make sure that I can get regular updates done. Rather than once a week, my other blog will be updated almost daily.

On that note, here's my final Melbourne blog post. Will get back to personal stuff hereafter and will link up to the new blog soon.

Today's Featured Location:
Mount Martha Beach

65km from the heart of Melbourne, Mount Martha lies on southern end of the Mornington Peninsula. While it's a small town with only a main road to shop at, the beach here is wonderful. The wide sandy stretches are almost always soft and lead up to the colourful bathing boxes that give it much of its character. There's nothing nicer than driving down here on a sunny day, throwing out the towel and relaxing all day. I'm not a beach person by any means but this beach somehow does it for me. Get here when you can!

Today's Music Feature:
Manic Street Preachers

An alternative rock band from Blackwood, Wales, formed in 1986; often referred to as “the Manics”, they are James Dean Bradfield (vocals, guitars), Nicky Wire (bass, occasional vocals) and Sean Moore (drums, backing vocals, occasional trumpet). The band were originally a quartet: lyricist and rhythm guitarist Richey Edwards mysteriously vanished on 1 February 1995. He was declared presumed deceased in November 2008.

The Manics released their debut album Generation Terrorists in 1992. Their combination of androgynous glam punk imagery, outspoken invective and songs about “culture, alienation, boredom and despair” soon gained them a loyal following and cult status. The band’s later albums retained a politicized and intellectual lyrical style, while adopting a broader alternative rock sound. Enigmatic lyricist Richey Edwards gained early notoriety by carving the words “4 REAL” into his arm with a razor blade (narrowly missing an artery and requiring seventeen stitches) in response to the suggestion that the band were less than authentic. The dark nature of 1994’s The Holy Bible reflected the culmination of Edwards’ instability.

Following Edwards’ disappearance, Bradfield, Moore, and Wire persisted with the Manic Street Preachers and went on to gain critical and commercial success, becoming one of Britain’s premier rock bands. They have had eight top ten albums and fifteen top ten singles. They have reached number one three times, with their 1998 album This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours and the singles “If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next” (1998) and “The Masses Against The Classes” (2000). They have also won the Best British Album and Best British Group accolades at the BRIT Awards in 1997 and 1999, and were lauded by the NME for their lifetime achievements in 2008. Their ninth studio album, Journal For Plague Lovers, was released on 18th May 2009 and features lyrics Edwards had left behind to the band weeks before his disappearance.

Inspired by the passion of The Clash, and moved by Thatcher’s suppression of the miners, the band’s lyrics exploded with politicised anger. The Manics paved the way for a resurgence of guitar bands in Wales. In the press, they were forced to live with punning headlines referring to sheep, boyos and leeks - they got all the clichés out of the way so the bands of the so-called Cool Cymru would be taken more seriously. Yet their image often overshadowed the music. On 15 May 1991 came a turning point for the Manics. Following a gig at Norwich Arts Centre, Steve Lamacq, then writing for the nme, argued with the band that they were a cartoon band - not real punks. The band refuted this, but still Lamacq persisted. Frustrated, Richey Edwards took a razor and calmly carved the words 4 REAL into his forearm. Lamacq was horrified; Richey needed 17 stitches. Six days later the Manics signed to Sony. Richey had suffered from depression for many years, and self-mutilation had become increasingly common for him. But the Norwich incident was the first time the guitarist had aired his emotional problems in public.

Richey’s despair was documented in what is now considered the Manics’ masterpiece, 1994’s ‘The Holy Bible’. Unremittingly bleak, the opening song Yes contained the lines “I eat and I dress and I wash and I still can say thank you / Puking, shaking, sinking / Can’t shout, can’t scream, I hurt myself to get pain out”. The song was about prostitution, but every line emanated from Richey’s fragile state of mind. He rejoined the band for tours with Therapy? and Suede (and an early incarnation of Vitriol I.D.) in Europe, and a series of frantic shows at the London Astoria in December. The final night saw them destroying 10,000 pounds worth of their equipment. “We’ll never be that good again,” said Nicky after the event. It was also their last live appearance as a four-piece.

Although they had never found transatlantic success, at the beginning of 1995 they were preparing to give America one last try. However, on 1 February Richey walked out of the Embassy hotel in London and never returned. His passport and money were found in his Cardiff Bay flat, and two weeks later his car was discovered beside the Severn Bridge - a notorious local suicide spot. The file on his disappearance remains open.

“We decided to carry on in April,” said Nicky Wire in The Guardian, “after two months of waiting by the phone and feeling ill and exhausted. We thought we’d been so close, and in the end we couldn’t do anything for him.” September saw the band record a cover of Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head for the war child “Help” album, and by January 1996 the Manics were recording their comeback album ‘Everything Must Go’. It was released on 20 May to critical acclaim, went double platinum and yielded four top ten singles: ‘A Design For Life’, the title track, ‘Kevin Carter’ and ‘Australia’. The sound represents a cross between the heavy rock of ‘Gold Against The Soul’ and a new, less agressive, almost britpop like sound. At this point, the Manics were so big they won two Brit Awards, beating out Blur and Oasis.
On December 31st 1999 the band said goodbye to the 20th Century with a gig at Cardiff Millennium Stadium, attended by upwards of 50,000 people.

[ME] Several albums later, The Manics are still not as recognised for their brilliance as they should be. The intelligent lyrics; the distinct guitar and vocals and their dedication to their convictions are why they are one of Wales most successful acts. PLEASE CHECK THEM OUT! The Holy Bible and Everything Must Go are two of the best albums ever released.

Julian's Movie of the [Whenever I Post] Day:
It's A Wonderful Life

I don't need to tell you about this movie. It's on every Christmas and if you haven't seen this movie, you are living under a rock. This is one of the best movies ever made and it's been over 60 years since its release. Some of the finest moments in film is found here and it's not just a great Christmas movie but one of the great movies of all time. SEE IT ALREADY!

So that's it for the big Melbourne posts. Will update soon on the new blog and will get my creative juices flowing for more posts thereafter.