Saturday, September 21, 2013

A tale of 3 CDs

Before my set of nights this week I went out and did something I haven't done in about 5 years. I went and purchased new music. Not new music to me, but new album releases. Even more out of character all 3 albums were in the top 20 of the current UK album chart. It was about time I embraced being an old man consumer of music instead of a young swotty hipster, which I don't think I ever was anyway, hopefully. It had been so long since I went to a music shop I had trouble finding one on the high street as the ones I knew have all shut.

Seeing as I don't post about medical stuff any more, because I don't want to get the sack and my interests outside of doctoring include childcare, music and football, I should post about that sort of stuff!

So 3 different albums and 3 different reviews.

Example - #Hits: 5/10

I have never really been into UK hip-hop or dance music so this cross over seems a bit different to me. However he was massive in Australia when I was over there and was fond of some of his popular club songs as it was quite nostalgic. Being a complilation it felt like a good place to start with a genre I have very little knowledge of.

Things started well enough, with the 2 tracks I knew best "Changed the way you kissed me" and "kickstart". Both of which familiar and toe tappingly engaging. After that is where it sort of goes awry for me. Possibly because they had less air time, but the next 10 or so songs sort of blend into once big electro meh. Beats were good enough on the ear to keep me awake on the M1 after a night shift, but nothing really stood out. Also, I never thought it would be the case, but a lot of his lyrics are kind of depressing. I figured dance/hip hop would be upbeat and confident, but there is alot of introspection on there. Not that I'm against deperessing, I thought it was a bit at odds with the background.

Thankfully he saved best for last with a Stone Roses "Fools Gold" sample and wretch 32 on "Unorthodox". Probably my favourite song on the album, because it was new, but familiar and lyrically brilliant from both of them.

The 1975 - The 1975: 3/10

Right, I purchased this going against every fibre of my being. They were on Soccer AM last week and I thought they were arrogant disengaged pubescent hipsters. I walked into the shop and the bloke behind the counter sighed loudly when I placed their CD on the counter. Both warning signs. However I liked their single "girls" and they were number 1 in the album chart and they'd come out of nowhere so they must be pretty good for all those British people to buy that album. All those British people are wrong.

It sounds as if some teenagers have listened to an All American Rejects album from 2002 and thought " You know what? Combine this with a bit of Cockney talking in the bridge and this will be great!" It started with a disjointed intro track, then came one pointless cliche after another. "She already has a boyfriend", not exactly inspiring. It sounds like some GCSE students English Literature essay, but graded at C at best. The lyrics are boring or inaudible. Backing singing is poor. Some of the melodies were Westlifeesque. Track 11 "girls" is genuinely quite good and they were right to release it first. The guitar has a bit of a calpyso quality about it, and he can carry a tune in it.

The rest of the album I could leave. So much so that when the CD finished, went on loop and played from track 1 again, I didn't even notice as it was so bland. So the lesson from this experience for me is: Don't buy an album on the strength of a good single or the behest of the public. The last time I did that was Alien Ant Farm's - "Anthology" and I'm still shuddering.

Arctic Monkeys - AM: 8/10

I was very much a Monkeys fanboy in 2005. I was living with friends at uni, we thought we were cool and we'd seen this band do a secret gig at our union in front of no more than 300 people. 3 weeks later they were number 1 in the singles chart and winning Grammy's. I loved their first album, I thought Alex Turner's voice was fantastic and his lyrics were gruff but poetic at the same time. He sung about stuff that I knew about which it should as we are the same age. The music was simple and fast and funny. "Fake Tales of San Francisco" could have been about some of the girls in my first year at medical school.

However I sort of lost touch with their music after that. Their next 3 albums passed me by as I became an uncool recluse who studied a lot and listened to too much Morrissey. I didn't even realise that this was their 5th studio album already and have still not listened to "Humbug" or "Suck it and see".

So I thought I'd give this one a whirl after my cousin was waxing lyrical about it to me. I'm glad to say I wasn't disappointed.

Firstly, they have come a long way as a band. Their sound is a lot cooler and edgier now. The lyrics are still fun and sometimes about the mundane but that speaks to me all the more. The guitar on "Arabella" reminded me of Black Sabbath's "war pigs" which is one of the best there is.

The sound could be straight out of some trendy New York underground bar. He has toned down his accent slightly and sings a bit more, both for the better. Some of the beats are so hip-hop and heavy they could have come straight out of Compton. The production is so good you can tell he has cool friends and is not just thrashing out a song on an old BBC telecaster. "R U Mine" is a great single and "Why do you only call me when you're high" was strangly melodic and hyponotising.

It only drops 2 points because I have a short attention span and some of the middle tracks follow a similar theme and probably fall victim to the other tracks being so entertaining. Other than that, I suggest you go out and buy it. I can't wait to put it on again when I get in the car later.

So there we go, a proper album review. I won't wait up for my call from NME. Also, I can see my wife reading this and thinking I'm a pretentious oaf. We'll see.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

New Horizons

Please excuse any errors due to writing in a largely sleep deprived state due to the newest addition to the Mabbutt household, baby Connor, born on the last day of July. The whole labour experience wasn't very pleasant for anyone involved but that rant is stored for another day. Some friends have questioned why I haven't posted any pictures of him online as they are all very keen to see him. Well my friends in Australia notwithstanding, you can see him any time you like. He's in our house 24 hours a day. Also, with social media pictures, he doesn't have a say in whether or not he wants his pictures to go on facebook and therefore I don't want to put pictures up unless he wants me to. I know I wouldn't want unapproved pictures of me going on facebook. If you don't feel close enough to us to visit but would like to see what offspring I have produced then I don't mind sending you a picture, just not for the public domain.

Parenthood in general is pretty much what everyone painted it as. "You'll have no idea what it's like! Life changing!" I heard those two phrases ad nauseum whilst Abi was pregnant and now I know why. I'm bloody knackered. He is a very nice looking baby and I have fun interacting with him but he doesn't do much further than produce stuff from various orifices. He has also learnt we come running if he cries, so now does so just for attention even if he is full, burped and changed.   However since going back to work I do look forward to coming home to see him. He did start smiling recently but I'm pretty sure that's gas. Surprisingly, he is pretty cost neutral. The money I spend on nappies and formula *gasp from the breastapo* is mitigated by the lack of money I spend on socialising. Also, we get 20 quid a week from the goverment just for procreating, which I find astounding as I think the government has better things to spend their money on than. The money could probably far more benefit somebody else as opposed to a family who are relatively comfortable. I won't say no to free money though so I'm not that saintly.

I have also started a new job in a new hospital in a city an hour away. I have decided not to move there as we currently have a good social support network in Northampton and I'm not exactly a fan of Leicester having lived there for 4 years and being burgled and robbed plenty of times. I've never worked in a large teaching hospital before and it is definitely a step up. In complexity and number of patients. I'm working in Paediatric surgery which is immensely interesting and rewarding, and being a parent myself definitely helps me know what parents of sick children go through. However as it's a new place I need to gain the trust of my bosses before I'm allowed to do anything, and still getting to grips with drug dosing and differences with children as patients. The nurses are very experienced and are quick to provide feedback on how best to position patients and cannulate them etc. Also, all juniors from FY1-2, CT1-2, ST1-3(paeds) GPVTS1-2 are all on the same rota, so I get a feeling not much is expected of us if a house officer can do the job, and sometimes feel like I'm treated accordingly. No offence meant to house officers but you gain some insight into how a hospital works if you've done it for 5 years already. I did an elective module in Paediatric surgery as a student and wanted to be a paediatric surgeon, but the lack of jobs and wide geographic area over which they work both put me off.

As for the hospital itself. The computers are standard hospital slow, the parking is terrible, the lifts are haphazard, the ceilings are too low, the neonatal unit is a 10 minute walk from the paediatric ward, the canteen is extortionate and all the catering staff wear silly looking flat caps. Other than that I like the new hospital I work in. I've also been assigned to do an audit, one that isn't related to my specialty which is odd as I'm normally pretty proactive in starting my own. I guess it's to make sure everyone gets one done so the department looks good.

Another gripe I had from the last week came in the form of an email I received. I was sent am email with a poster for a local conference and there were 100 spaces. The price was £40 for nurses and other health care professionals and £70 for doctors. Now why the bloody hell do I have to pay almost double the amount of money that a nurse has to for what is exactly the same list of lectures and seminars. I don't get anything extra and before people say "but doctors get paid more, so should pay more" I say a band 8 nurse consultant or matron is on a damn sight more money than I am, so should they pay more as well?

I've also had my supervisor meeting where my masterplan for ST3 applications was formulated. All in all the last few weeks have been all new and exciting.