I somewhat foolishly (from a football fan’s perspective) elected to visit the Balkans during their winter break, so was unable to go to any matches in either Belgrade or Zagreb. I did, however, visit the Crvena Zvezda museum, which was fantastic. The Marakana is a brilliant-looking stadium, inside and out. I definitely plan to return when its atmosphere is a little hotter.
Punk rock has become utterly boring – a race to the bottom between hyper-clinical easy-bake musical mannequins who think that the word “tattoo” is Maori for “personality” and (shudder) over-whimsical ADHD kids who probably eat their own all-the-colours-of-the-rainbow Skittle vomit.
Copenhagen’s Iceage are, I believe, recently-anointed Pitchfork darlings. The only thing more boring than modern punk rock is a Pitchfork darling.
Arsenal are weaker
Arsenal went into the summer needing an injection of experience, leadership and physical power. They wake up on September 1st with some of those things, but shorn of two of their three vital creative players.
Firstly, the signings. Gervinho had a very good season at Lille, helping them to win the French Championship. His arrival in England has been something of a rude awakening, but he’ll add goals from out wide and direct running with more of an end product than Theo Walcott is likely to provide (not to mention a terrible haircut to rival Bacary Sagna’s). Per Mertesacker adds experience and a physical presence to the side. There is the chance that he could be found out for pace, and Werder Bremen have not been known for defensive solidarity in recent years, but he should make a good foil for the excellent Thomas Vermaelen.
Until very recently I wrote for the very enjoyable music website The 405. As a part of that I worked as the Manchester correspondent for the New Music by Region series (despite not having lived in Manchester since last year). Here are my six contributions:
Name: Well Wisher – ‘Babe Issues’
Coming across as the bastard offspring of emo legends Braid, early Minus The Bear and Brit darlings Dananananaykroyd (albeit with a singer who sounds like “Robert Smith with a bit of a sniffle”), Well Wisher are the current darlings of Manchester’s DIY indie-punk scene. They’ve just self-released a split 7″ with Canadians Polina, but the band’s true selling point is their live show. Expect human pyramids, lots of twitching, gyrating limbs, and impenetrable in-jokes told in impossibly northern accents.
If Liverpool’s 2010-11 season could have been described as bi-polar, then the team managed a similar feat within a single game against Sunderland on Saturday. In the first half at Anfield the team – boosted by the unexpected early return of Luis Suarez – were purposeful and dynamic; Andy Carroll had arguably his best half of football in a red shirt, Stewart Downing looked direct and menacing, and Suarez was, well, Suarez. New boys Jose Enrique, Jordan Henderson and Charlie Adam all went about their jobs with a quiet effectiveness.
But for a combination of poor refereeing and Suarez’s missed penalty, Liverpool would have been home and hosed at half-time and the club’s fans would be discussing a strong early season statement of intent. As things would turn out though, all discussion after the match focused on a second half performance as slack and fatigued as the first half had been sharp and purposeful.