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Eels, Episodes, Amstell

Listen – Eels : Beautiful Freak 

Recently on Twitter I declared this one of the great flawless albums of the ’90s. Maybe I should revise that to all time?

In the middle of my teenage years I played Eels’ debut single Novocaine For The Soul over and over and over again, and I lamented the hopelessness of the world along with Susan’s House. Yet it probably wasn’t until my mid-20s that I went and really revisited the entire album and with a bit more life experience understood even more acutely what E is trying to tell us.

Not a single track is weak. While the lyrics have a mass of emotion behind them the music really compliments and helps to drive the story home. If you haven’t listened to – I mean really listened to – this album in awhile, dust it off and let yourself be reminded of the freakish beauty it possesses. If you’ve never listened to it, go download or stream or whatever you kids do these days and thank me later for enriching your life.

Watch – Episodes

It took casual watching of two seasons and joy at the announcement of a third for me to finally decide that yes, I quite like this show. I have never been so unsure about going steady with a comedy series in my life.

Starring Tamsin Greig, Stephen Mangan and Matt LeBlanc (as an “obnoxious douchebag” version of himself) there was never any doubt that it is cast well. Unfortunately I think the story falls flat at times. The bones of the plot are that a happily married couple (Greig/Mangan) writes a successful award winning sitcom in the UK only to then be lured over to Hollywood to replicate the success in a US version. A scenario we see played out far too often. Surprise surprise, “the network” push for the completely unsuitable casting of Matt LeBlanc in the lead role and the show is bastardised to work around it. Along with this and the culture shock, the happy couple become increasingly unhappy in their new work and social environments.

Episodes is less focused on the disaster a now-unrecognisable success has become as much as on the disasters people become in the Hollywood world. I’m not going to tell you it’s the best comedy ever made, and it definitely takes time to hit its stride. But it’s an easy watch for rainy afternoons and you get to watch Stephen Mangan’s ridiculous face be ridiculous.


Read – “You can’t be lazy in stand-up” : An interview with Simon Amstell

There seems to be a bit of a British comedian theme with my reading recommendations lately. I’d apologise but then that would make me a lying liar who lies. This time, rather than an autobiography I’m sharing a recent interview with TV presenter, stand up comedian, and er “actor” Simon Amstell who is in the middle of trying to make Americans love him with a stand up tour. One American well ahead of the curve is Maria Schurr. Being a self confessed longtime fan of Simon she has used her knowledge of him and his work to ask some truly great questions that haven’t been asked a billion times before. Which inspire some equally as great answers and insight from a very open and receptive interviewee. If you’re already a fan it’s a must read. If you’re a little bit Si-curious it’s a good way to dip your toe in.

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