sorry to have a boring tech post, but it seems that google are determined to make my life harder to use than it was before with 'upgrades'. they've replaced their rss reader with 'currents', a pretty aggregator that doesn't really aggregate feeds but keeps them entirely separate, which is completely pointless as in that case, i might as well just read the original webpage or whatever that it is a feed _of_.

then they upgrade google music by removing the 'shuffle all' button from everything except all songs. I used to be able to click on Folk, then 'shuffle all', which is exactly how i like to listen to my music genres. now, this simple action is made harder, i suppose i could build a playlist of all my folk and then shuffle that, but why make it harder?

then they upgrade google talk into google hangouts, and remove any indication of who is currently online. as a talk client, this is now useless.

I'm sorry if idon't understand how hangouts are meant to work. i just don't get it at all. i just want to leisurely type messages to my friends who happen to be online, and maybe once in a while make a video call. please let me do that.

I'm not saying 'if it ain't broke don't fix it', because that is utterly conservative and not how nature works. i'm saying, sure, make an improvement, but save a damn copy first in case you ruin it for everyone. why not just let me choose?


The Bishop Fuckers: a review

I've decided I'm giving my self 10 minutes to do blog posts, so that I can keep stringing together thoughts longer than two sentences long.

For a start, I've been meaning to review The Bishop Fuckers ep from 2002.

The Bishop Fuckers are ancient history now, but very important in my rock family tree, as our band the Toys of the Fishermen supported them twice and collaborated on a memorable jam of 'grilly's christmas song'; and various combinations of the former members have provided a musical life-line over the years ever since. So finally, after eleven years, I was able to get hold of their 6-track mini-album.

I've seen most of these songs performed tens of times, and thought I remembered them quite well. So after ten years of adoring the thought of them, what stands up? what's now just studenty crap?

The songs fall into two camps - anti-authoritian Prog rock songs (which are The Crucifiction and DICCU) and student-life reports (Don't Text Him, About Last Night, and Aidan). The first thing that strikes is the musicianship is fantastic, just as I remember. Listening to 'The Crucifiction', I'm swaddled in layers of intricate piano and lead guitar. But the student-union politics and the pretentious prog style grow a little wearysome. DICCU preaches again, this time against preachy religious people (and by extension, authoritainism).

The Studenty songs are less interesting. About Last Night is musically a fairly simple rock track, with strong vocal performance. Don't Text him is a funk rock workout, with lyrics about a friend's relationship; it sounds irrelevant and gossipy now, but at least it's writing about what you know. Aiden, a hit at the time, now feels like a fairly limp wedding band run through a popular eighties ballad.

There are some songs I'm surprised by the lack of inclusion: Bar Full of Cunts and the Dale-penned Song for the Baffing were particular favourites of mine.

Surprisingly, the stand out track for me, listening to it now, is the harrowing song Ambition is Futile, which strikes a chord with me that it didn't ten years ago. It doesn't fit into either of the two categories above, and maybe that's why it's not as dated. It has an existentialist anger that still catches me, that I think a lot of indie would love to own, but combined with a cool jazz-rock insistence, it just cuts you through, like a smiths with the romantic poetry replaced by someone explaining, statistically, why you should be depressed.

Right, I'm over time and the record has finished. I'm stopping.

They say you should never go back, but I'm glad to have this memento of that time. It doesn't change my memories.