Friday, 23 June 2017

Georgia - Feel It (Official Video)



And the sound of young London, keeping at it, doing good. I think that this might be the song she opened her set at British Summertime with last year: The one that frightened the lounging hipsters.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Gothic Tropic - How Life Works



Aside from Honeyblood, Gothic Tropic were the only other band I saw at the Manchester leg of Dot to Dot, and they did not disappoint.

They played to about 50 people (full capacity) in the tiny back room of the Castle Hotel on Oldham Street at 10pm, where the temperature was akin to that of a pizza oven, and they were fantastic. I was reminded of Adult Net; there seemed to be that same sense of clean post punk pop energy and crispness overlaid with California warmth. They are a great live band, very energetic and immersive. The album, Fast or Feast, is just out and it's a pop classic basically. I loved it on the first listen and will be buying it.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Honeyblood - Sea Hearts



As mentioned yesterday, I did see Honeyblood play at Dot to Dot in Manchester at the Albert Hall on 26th May. They were on at 5pm, which is never going to be a great slot because it's just too early for the audience to be really ready for you. The band played really well, and are clearly amazing musicians who make a staggering amount of noise for just two people, but aside from three pockets of teenagers (mainly girls, some boys) going absolutely berserk to it, the audience was somewhat reserved and quiet, there in body but not in spirit. Despite the wider circumstances of what was going on in Manchester that week, I do feel that if the band had been playing in a slightly smaller venue, later on that night, they would have fared better, crowd and venue wise.

That said, they are a band who are well worth checking out live, and on record as well. As much as I love them, I am aware that, were I 17 I would love them a whole lot more because they are made to be loved by teenage girls, who will latch onto them and clutch them to their fevered hearts with an intensity so fierce it will hurt.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Vagabon - " Fear & Force " (Official Video)



I almost saw Vagabon perform at Dot to Dot, but didn't because I was seeing Honeyblood at the Albert Hall immediately before her set at Gullivers. Because of the amount of time it takes to travel between those two venues (the Albert Hall being near Albert Square, Gullivers being on Oldham Street in the Northern Quarter) it didn't seem worth trying to catch the end of her set. It was a pity though.

As with No Vacation's 'Mind Fields', this video has a clear narrative arc that draws you in. By coincidence, the subject matter is quite similar too, though the songs are very different and I'm pretty sure they're directed by different film makers.

I'm interested to hear the album.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Miya Folick - Talking with Strangers (HQ)



Miya Folick was featured on the Spotify playlist for Dot to Dot, but wasn't scheduled to play at the Manchester leg of it. As with Kelsey Lu, she has a fantastic voice, and some really strong songs, of which this is one. Well worth keeping an eye out for. Instinct suggests she will also be amazing live.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Avante Black - Drug Money (Official Video)



I almost saw Avante Black at Dot to Dot in Manchester on 26th May but something had gone wrong with the scheduling at Mint Lounge so what I saw in the end was a large chunk of their soundcheck before I gave up and wondered over to Gullivers, where I discovered Overcoats had cancelled.

'Drug Money' is a bit of grower I think, and this could be a Wolf Alice or Pale Honey situation for me: Initially I overlooked them both and took them a bit for granted, only for them to completely blindside me with some really good records. So I think Avante Black will be worth keeping an eye on, just in case.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Overcoats - Leave The Light On



While Hanna and JJ were off on their European tour, they also released a video to accompany their single 'Leave The Light On'. As you would expect, there's lots of excellent dancing.

Unfortunately the band didn't play their UK dates at the Dot to Dot festivals, which is a shame, but perfectly understandable in the circumstances. In the meantime, I have reviewed their excellent album, Young, for The F-Word and you can get a flavour of the live experience by watching their Audiotree live session in Chicago in May. 

The album review was quite hard to write. Not because Young is a difficult album, or hard to write about, but because I found myself writing the review in late May in what was a very traumatic week for Manchester, and for the UK. I don't feel the circumstances in which it was written have overshadowed the review, but they have shaped it, for better or for worse.


Sunday, 11 June 2017

London Grammar - Truth Is a Beautiful Thing (Lyric Video)




From the new album, Truth is a beautiful thing, which is produced by Paul Epworth who did the first two Florence + The Machine albums.

London Grammar are one of those bands who I've dipped in and out of over the past few years. I was a big fan of their early track 'Metal & Dust', and I distinctly remember them playing at Pangaea at Manchester University in 2013. That's remember it happening I mean; I didn't attend. I've been looking forward to the new album as the singles bode well and this one in particular feels very atmospheric, poignant and gorgeous.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Natasha Kmeto - Pour Down (official video)



Because after the events of the past few weeks, and the last twenty four hours, I feel a real sense of catharsis and a need to dance.

Thank you to Elmo, Lord Buckethead and Mr Fishfinger for giving me moments of hilarity in the last twenty four hours.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Never Mind The Terrorists, We Are Manchester


This picture was taken tonight at 25 past 7, not 25 past 6: I haven't adjusted the time on my camera for British Summertime yet.

It is up on a fence around a building site on Stockport Road, directly facing Manchester Apollo.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Overcoats - Little Memory





'Little Memory' was the first song Hana and JJ wrote together in their final year at college. You can see from this why they've been written of as being a female Simon & Garfunkel for the modern age, but you can also hear a hint of darkness and the sparse bleakness of Chet Baker. An early snapshot of what was to come.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Which Witch - Florence + The Machine - Live Rio 2016



I am very obsessed with this song at the moment.

I went looking for the recorded version on YouTube so I could share it, only then I couldn't find it. I did find this clip of the band performing 'Which Witch' in Rio in 2016 though, which will give you an idea of it. The band also played it in Poland and Italy on the outgoing European leg of the How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful tour in December 2015, but as far as I know, it wasn't performed on the outgoing leg of the UK tour, and definitely didn't feature in the bands homecoming set at Hyde Park.

An extra track on the How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful album, 'Which Witch' was, gleaning from interviews with Florence Welch about the album, an early track that didn't end up on the album proper because although they liked it, it was too like Ceremonials in sound. If you liked 'Breath of Life', you'll like this.

Because I can't find the recorded version on YouTube, I will have to refer you to Spotify on this occasion if you want to hear the demo/extra track version of the song. It is well worth it, believe me.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Jesca Hoop - Memories Are Now [OFFICIAL VIDEO]





It's taking me longer to warm to Memories Are Now the album than it did to Hunting My Dress and The House That Jack Built, but it's a grower.

The title track is understated genius. It creeps up on you slowly, and gradually overpowers your senses until you give in.

Friday, 5 May 2017

The Staves - Tired As Fuck [Official Video]





There's an unease, a disconnect, a jarring sense of the artificial while at the same time an incredible searing anger and vulnerability mixed in with the weariness that makes this video at once powerful and really quite difficult to watch.

My initial thought on hearing this song ( a few months back now) was "Ye Gods, you can tell that they were on the F+TM How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful tour in 2015", and while as gut reactions go it still holds true, the truth is undoubtably going to be more complex. I suspect that The Staves were on the verge of shifting in a more rock direction perhaps anyway, and that this is the advance guard of this new creative approach.

I look forward to hearing more.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Laura Gibson "The Cause" (Live at WFUV)




It's taken me a while to get into Laura Gibson. As with Julia Holter, I think it's a case of every now and then there's a song that really grabs me, and that I get really into, and then I feel like I have a longish wait for another one to come along. It might be lack of attention and a bit of impatience on my part though, as it took me three or four listens to really get into 'The Cause'.

I am blogging 'The Cause' because, before I started on the Between Two Books odyssey of reading, I'd been reading quite a few books on the suffragettes, and today is local election and mayoral election day. If you have an election to vote in today, go forth and vote.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Official music video for 'Polonia' by Katy Carr





I met the lovely, and staggeringly talented, Katy Carr at two 40 Years Of Punk events in London last summer. We were introduced by Helen McCookerybook, Katy being one of Helen's former students.

'Polonia' is the title track from Katy's 2015 album.

I was going to include the version of 'Hallelujah' from Polish National TV on the basis that it made me cry, but I think 'Polonia' is probably more representative of Katy's work.


Sunday, 30 April 2017

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

...And right back to reality again





Given I've been writing about fanzines for weeks, this feels most apt. I am now wondering if Grace is having a Kate Nash moment, but not sufficiently to stop jumping around the living room to this.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Back to work again...

Unconventional writers desk, i.e. the kitchen table
I had actually intended to have the whole four days of the Easter Bank Holiday weekend off from writing, and have a mental health weekend, but instead I elected to dive headlong into a literary voyage and start reading all of the books on the reading list of Between Two Books, The Florence + The Machine book club. 

This is odd for me because I'm normally very wary of book clubs. I think it's because of having done an English degree and, while I always really enjoyed the socio-cultural discussions around the literature we were reading for the course, didn't actually enjoy many of the texts themselves much. The most profound, as in earth shattering, connection I had with a literary text that I was studying occurred right at the end of third year when we did Sarah Kane's 4.48 Psychosis. Which, of all the texts to latch on to, is probably the most troubling one, and probably something I should be really, really worried about. It didn't worry me though: Not in the same way that identifying with Prozac Nation years later did anyway, but I digress...

What attracted me to Between Two Books was the list of books that they had already read: Since 2012, they have read books by, amongst others, Gwendoline Riley, Emma Forrest, and Jeffrey Eugenides. As someone who has previously been obsessed with (at different times) Sick Notes (third year of degree, pre Sarah Kane) and The Virgin Suicides (at 6th Form college: I found it in the library one day and devoured it instead of going to Media Studies, then forgot about it until the film came out, read it again, and became obsessed by it all over again) and who has a particularly vivid memory of reading Namedropper aged 15 when it had just come out, liking it, and playing the 'spot who the real indie/pop star is' with it, it seemed almost unnerving to discover that someone else, especially someone whose work has become an integral part of my life, has been reading the same authors as me, albeit different works and at different times.

What with having finally finished my punk women and fanzines chapter for MUP, and having hit something of a wall with the current stage of my punk women book, a dive into a literary hinterland, particularly over a four day weekend, felt irresistible.

And so it has proved!

I started Gwendoline Riley's Opposed Positions mid week, finished it on Friday, and almost immediately started Kirsten Reed's The Ice Age, which has been my favourite so far. I'm currently about half way through Emma Forrest's Your Voice In My Head, which I'm also enjoying, to my surprise, as I haven't really got into any of her other books, post Namedropper.

But, today, I resurfaced from my literature drenched hinterland/cave to listen to the punk ladies on Radio 4's The Reunion, inadvertently breakfasting to the tail end of The Archers omnibus in the meantime. The punk ladies taking part were: Gaye Black of The Adverts, Gina Birch of The Raincoats, Toyah Wilcox, Tessa Politt from The Slits, and Vivien Goldman. I don't think I gleaned anything new from the programme (as opposed to the one on French punk, which was a revelation), but it was interesting, and I'm glad Radio 4 did it.

Afterwards, I somewhat guiltily thought 'I should get back to sorting out those literary agent submissions for the punk women book'. I've managed to get some work done this morning, so it was worth pushing myself.

As with the punk women and fanzines chapter with MUP, especially at the re-drafting/checking stage, you end up doing a lot of niggly work that isn't massively interesting and is, frequently, quite depressing. I was telling Paul about this one Saturday on the bus home from work, namely about how I was spending my time trawling through books looking for examples of sexism in the 1960s counterculture and, specifically, in underground comix of the period. It was really easy to find examples too: Not to mention incredibly depressing.

My current depressing task is to locate examples of songs from the late 1960s/early 1970s that were big hits while being incredibly sexist. I don't think it'll be hard... I already have one in mind that I know is on a sixties Sunshine Pop compilation my mum has, and which always makes my skin crawl when I hear it. The rest of the CD is fine, just that song...

So that will be a task for today, and I can cheer myself up afterwards with the Emma Forrest book, or dance around the living room to let off steam again. Whichever...

I'm going to continue with Between Two Books I think, but only in the reading sense, not the discussion sense as I tend to find I get bossy in discussions and, besides, it requires a Facebook account, and I don't do Facebook or, indeed, Social Media. I don't think blogging counts as social media anymore...

If you want to find out more about Between To Books, you can find them on Twitter, on Facebook, and you can read an interview with Leah Moloney, one of the girls who runs it, over on The Guardian. There's also an interview with Florence Welch about Between Two Books, and literature more generally, on W Magazine's website as well.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Harkin - "Independence Day" (Comsat Angels Cover)





This was recorded either at or following the LA Women's March, earlier this year. Katie Harkin picked the song because it felt like a real song of the times, despite it's historical position as post punk classic.

This version is fresh and, yes, feels very timely. You can watch an interview about the project over on YouTube. 

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Noga Erez - Off The Radar (Single Stream)





This is the title track from Erez's debut album, and it's a very timely, not to mention highly infectious,  take on social media anxiety. The album, which is out on June 2nd, certainly promises to be a mighty beast.

She is playing a couple of UK dates in May in London at Village Underground (4th May, supporting Sylvan Esso) and in Brighton at The Great Escape, 19th May. Then she's back in London in August for Visions Festival (5th August). The evidence of this, and the three previous singles, suggest she is well worth checking out.

Getting there, with musical interludes

Regular readers of this blog (yep, all two of you..) may have noticed that I haven't been writing any long posts recently.

This is because I've been doing a lot of punk related writing work and haven't had time to do much writing outside of that. There's been a lot of music up here though, and that's to reflect all my 'take my mind off punk for a bit' listening lately, of which there has been A LOT.

Today, in-between punk chapter edits, I bought the XX album and pre-ordered the Overcoats album, which comes out on 21st April. I can't wait for the Overcoats album.

The XX I have been aware of for at least eight years I'd say but, while I quite liked them before, I never bought any of their records. The new album is a lot more dance orientated, and it's really struck a chord with me, and improves with each listen. I always liked the slightly melancholy minimalism of  the XX, but the dance element brings a whole new dimension to it.

I did see the band live in 2010 at ATP in Minehead, but I had to leave partway through the set because Sara and I were being tasered by the bass and felt too physically discombobulated by it to stay, even though we were enjoying the set aside from that. We subsequently wandered around outside for a bit, unsteadily wailing 'TASERED BY THE BAASSS!' to the tune of Manfred Mann and the Earth Band's 'Blinded by the light'. I think this incident occurred the same night as we went berserk at one of the club nights to Sonic Youth and then found ourselves sonically embarrassed when the DJ's switched over and didn't recognise any of the songs the new one was playing because they were all very student-y and hipsterish. Both incidents reflecting a growing sense of 'Am I too old for all of this?' which, I imagine, grabs anyone over the age of 25 periodically.

But anyway, I don't think the XX are in need of an endorsement from me, but I do so freely anyway. It's a great album.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Cold Comfort Lane - Holy Moly





'Cold Comfort Lane' is Holy Moly & The Crackers new single, and it's out this Friday (7th April). Some of their other songs sounds more Gogol Bordello than the swaggering garage punk you're getting here, but whichever way the majority of their oevre swings towards, they do promise to be a great live act.

They start their UK tour this week, and you can find the tour dates over on their website.




Sunday, 2 April 2017

Leave The Light On (Official Audio)





I'm thinking of having a monthly, or perhaps weekly, feature on this blog called This Weeks Ace Song By Overcoats!

It's really nice to be receiving the bands increasingly excited emails ahead of this months album release, and the regular feeding of tracks is just making me long for the album more and more.

The band did a suitably enthusiastic performance of this track, along with others, as part of their recent Tiny Desk concert. Complete with mad dancing, of course.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Angel Olsen - Intern





So many people were urging me to get into Angel Olsen last year and, you know, sometimes you get a bit wary or suspicious when that happens but, in this case, everybody was right and My Woman is a great album.

Helen McCookerybook wrote a rave review of Angel's live collaboration with the Raincoats last year, which still sounds like the live billing from heaven for me.

I've gone for 'Intern' because I think it's the most 'stop-'em-in-their-tracks' song on the album.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Sade - When Am I Going To Make A Living (Official Music Video)



My friend and former colleague, Holly Combe, was the person to introduce me to this song. I was aware of Sade before that, of course, but I hadn't heard this particular song before.

Back in the summer of 2012, when Holly and I were the two Music Review Editors at the F-Word, we ran a Song Of The Day blog series where we posted a different song every day for about two months. 'When Am I Going To Make A Living' was one of Holly's choices and, as she wrote at the time, it has a special resonance to those of us trying to scratch a living in the creative industries.

It's at once a very 80s song and, at the same time, also feels very contemporary in it's subject matter. I am taking a lot of solace from it at the moment.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Everything But The Girl - Driving (Acoustic Live)





This has been living in my musical brain as a particularly friendly ear worm for most of the past year, on and off.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

LAURA NYRO gibsom st





To harrow your soul...

Much as I have been having a Ceremonials phase lately, as opposed to a Lungs or How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful phase, I've also been having a New York Tendaberry phase as opposed to an Eli and the Thirteenth Confession phase.




Monday, 20 March 2017

Halsey - I Walk The Line (Audio)





Doing to Johnny Cash what Grace Mitchell did to Hall & Oates with 'Maneater', basically. Weirdly hypnotic.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

This Face This Name





This song has been good to me these last few years.

Melanie Garside is someone who has been there, done it, and got the proverbial t-shirt.

Back in the mid 1990s she was in Tabitha Zu, later just Zu, and possessed of a mop of multi coloured hair braids. She turned up later playing bass in Queen Adreena, and was in the Mediaeval Baebes for a bit, appearing on their Miribilis album.

'This Face This Name' is the closing track on her second album Home, from 2008, a melange of folk and indie rock.

Maple Bee was the name she used as a Mediaeval Baebe, and she's still out there, both as Maple Bee and Melanie Garside.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Florence + The Machine - Lover To Lover



Florence Welch in soul girl mode.

This was Florence's second time working with director Vincent Haycock, who would later go on to direct the series of videos made to complement the How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful album that would come to be known as The Odyssey.

It is tempting to view 'Lover To Lover' as foreshadowing The Odyssey thematically as well as in a cinematography sense, but I think that's too simplistic.

It was the last single from the Ceremonials album though so, in that sense, it does provide a sort of link on.


Saturday, 11 March 2017

Noga Erez - Toy





Like Overcoats, this girl is going to be big this year, and has a great album on the way in a few months time. Can't wait.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Nighttime Hunger (Official Audio)




Oh yeah, Overcoats are totally fulfilling their promise alright!

Can't wait for the album in April.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Dancer - Official trailer





I can remember reading about Sergei a year or two back in Intelligent Life, the Economist's culture magazine (since replaced by 1843), he sounded then like someone you could make a film about.

Not sure if I'm going to get to see it or not, but I will definitely try to I think.

Home will be showing it in Manchester on 2nd March

After all the Glasgow giddiness, back to work...

After all the Glasgow blogging giddiness last week (and it's always fun to revisit the nice bits of your past), it's back to work.

I currently have two book piles on the living room floor:

Pile #1:

Books for pleasure



















Pile # 2:

Books for punk chapter revisions for MUP




Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Belle and Sebastian - Mayfly



Coming from a different tradition to Franz Ferdinand, the Delgados, and most definitely to Pink Kross and the Space Kittens, by 1996 Belle and Sebastian were coming through and, while still a cult concern at that point, and a few years away from unexpectedly winning the public vote award at the Brit Awards, it's all here.


Spare Snare - Bugs




The sound of summer 1996




Adventures in Stereo - The Attic Walk (1997)





Another alumni of Creeping Bent. They also did a pretty cool version of Subway Sect's 'Nobody's Scared'

THE SECRET GOLDFISH Pink Drone





The Secret Goldfish were signed to the Glasgow label Creeping Bent, which was Clare Grogan and Stephen Lironi's label.

Some of their songs, such as 'Dandelion Milk Summer', were more towards the twee/C86 end of things, but 'Pink Drone' (released as a single as 'Punk Drone') was epic.

Pink Kross - Peel Session 1995





Pink Kross!

I remember this Peel Session, they were a great live band as well. They ended up headlining the No Fi Fest in Manchester at the Star and Garter in 1998 after Yummy Fur pulled out and, during all the frenetic pogoeing, the floor began to move in some very alarming ways indeed.

Didn't collapse though. Always good that.

space kittens pussy machine





The Space Kittens were closer kin to, perhaps, Pink Kross, than they were to Bis or even perhaps to Lungleg. Much more the hardcore, punk end of things. They were a fantastic live band, as this clip of a reformation gig shows.

03 In The Company Of Women The Yummy Fur - Sexy World -





And here are the Yummy Fur themselves.

Lungleg get a mention in this one and, if you ever get hold of a copy of the Sexy World LP and flip it over to look at the back then you'll see it's made up of tiny snapshots of a substantial number of people who were in bands in Glasgow at the time.

Franz Ferdinand - Maid To Minx (Lungleg cover) 2014



In which contemporary Glasgow meets 90s Glasgow.

The links between Franz Ferdinand and the Yummy Fur are well known, with a number of members of Franz having passed through the later period lineups of the Fur. The Yummy Fur were led by John McKeown, whose sister Jane played bass in Lungleg.

Lungleg formed shortly before the Yummy Fur, in 1994. Their first 2 EP's were released on the London label Piao!, and they went on to record an LP for the Glasgow label Vesuvius in 1997, which featured an early version of 'Maid To Minx'.

In 1999 the band reworked and re-released the single for Southern Records.

The clip below is the 1999 version and, by the by, the artwork for Maid To Minx the album was created by Jaime Hernandez, of Love and Rockets fame.






Kandy Pop by bis





In 1996 Bis became the first, and (so far as I'm aware) the only unsigned band to appear on Top Of The Pops. 

'Kandy Pop' wasn't my favourite track from the Secret Vampires EP, but it's aged surprisingly well in retrospect.

They played Manchester Roadhouse the day after appearing on TOTP, supporting Super Furry Animals, and the gig sold out. To the extent that people were turned away. From The Roadhouse. I kid ye not.

Spook on the High Lawn by Cha Cha Cohen





Not your typical Chemikal Underground band maybe, but a fantastic band and a fantastic record.

Magoo - The Starter's Gun





I'm doing this from memory, but...

As I recall, Magoo were from Norwich and, prior to being on Chemikal Underground, were on a local label called Noisebox.

I am pretty sure that, at the point when they signed to Chemikal Underground, they were the only non Scottish band on the label.

This didn't last though, it's just how it was back in about 1996 ish.

Sucrose - The Delgados



'Sucrose', from the bands debut album Domestiques was the one that had an absolute blinder of an extra track on the CD single, and I cannot for the life of me remember the name of the track except that it might have been a cover version.

Why did I not keep it?!?

Friday, 17 February 2017

Lost in France trailer - special screening and reunion gig 21 February l...



Aaaahhhhh!

It's like one massive flashback to my fanzine writer years.

To that time in the mid-late 1990s when ALL the best bands were from:

A) Glasgow
B) Newcastle
C) Lanarkshire in the wider sense
D) The North East in the wider sense

End of.

Lost In France will be showing in Manchester on Tuesday 21 February at 20:15 at Home as part of a live satellite broadcast from Glasgow Film Festival. As it should be!

Chemikal Underground had such a massive impact on the Glasgow music scene and it's great to see that someone has documented that.

Note: I know I spelled Chemikal Underground right, but autocorrect corrected it, so I've now corrected it back again

Lorne - Bread Alone



An early contender for song of the year this one

Monday, 13 February 2017

Sounds of the times

This is a blog piece that is still coalescing in my head as I'm typing it.

I've been thinking a lot about music as the soundtrack to our times these last few weeks, mainly because there seems to have been a fresh engagement with political commentary in a music context since Trump was elected.



I think there were stirrings of it last year (Will Varney's 'To Build A Wall' and Aimee Mann's 'Can't you tell?' for example) as well as a number of musical projects/songs that directly referenced Black Lives Matter (Beyonce's 'Formation', the whole of Solange's A Seat At The Table, Lady Gaga's 'Angel Down'...), but post Trump's inauguration, a number of song's have appeared conveying a sense of malaise (Allred and Broderick's 'The Ways', which was released the same day as Trump's inauguration) or else anger (Arcade Fire and Mavis Staple's 'I Give You Power')






I clearly recall, a few weeks ago, in the days after the presidential decree banning those from seven mainly Muslim countries from entering the US, and the subsequent protests around the world it generated, looking at a new music playlist in Spotify and finding song after song after song that just seemed to really accurately represent the prevailing mood. These weren't songs written for that situation, they were just songs that already existed that seemed to fit the mood, songs like Karl Blau's take on 'Fallin Rain' or The Pop Group's 'Zipperface'.




I'm coming to the gradual conclusion that there are many facets to the thorny issue of music and politics.

There are outwardly, explicitly politically motivated songs, or protest songs. (From 'Strange Fruit' to 'This Land Is Our Land' to 'Mississippi Goddamn', to 'Ohio', to 'Free Nelson Mandela', to Father John Misty's 'Pure Comedy', which Piccadilly Records recently dubbed unnervingly prescient, and many, many others)

There are songs that were not written as explicitly political songs, or as protest songs, but which then acquire a political dimension later on due to circumstances. Kind of the proverbial 'Being in the right place at the right time'. The classic example being Martha and the Vandellas 'Dancing In The Street', which became the soundtrack to the Detroit riots in 1967, and the Specials 'Ghost Town', which was number one in the UK charts the same week as most of the 1981 riots were happening.

There are performers who do not have a reputation/image as political artists, who do not write songs that are directly political, but who are engaging with politics on an individual basis. This is a difficult one to write about because it's more of a personal issue for those artists when they're off duty than it necessarily is part of their image when they're performing and I hold the opinion that what musicians get up to when they're off duty is their own concern, not mine. On the other hand, if they write about it on Twitter, it's in the public domain, but it's also still in the public domain in a personal, off duty, capacity, but how realistic is that when the whole way musicians engage with their fans has irrevocably changed in the social media age?

Which is a very long winded way of saying that, while left leaning Kate Bush fans have recently been left reeling by Kate Bush's endorsement of Theresa May, I've been happily digesting Florence Welch's tweet in support of the women's marches and her endorsement of the emergency protest outside Downing Street on 30th January against Trump's muslim ban. This is on top of the way that, in the latter stages of Florence + The Machine's How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful tour in 2016 'Spectrum' became a post Orlando shootings gay solidarity anthem, and the way that Welch handled the bands headline set at British Summer Time in Hyde Park, coming as it did eight days after the EU referendum result and on the same day as a pro EU march next door in Green Park. Can an artist be subtley, personally political rather than outright explicitly, all the time political? How are these decisions negotiated on a personal level by the artist in question? How do fans react to previously unpolitical artists making political statements?



On an easier level, I was pleased to see the return of Harry Potter to protest culture again. He had a definite cameo in the 2010 Student Protests and popped up again on placards at some of the anti Trump protests in January/February. 'Dumbledore wouldn't have stood for it' was a nice touch. This kind of reinforces what I said in 2010, which is that Harry Potter has become a kind of universal protest figure, an anti establishment icon, possibly because the millennial generation hasn't had a lot of protest music to grow up with and because Potter has had a more dominant role in their lives than perhaps music has. That might be too simplistic, but, one thing the Harry Potter books did was install an entire generation of kids with a clear sense of right and wrong and a kind of anti authoritarianism that seems to be standing them in pretty good stead.



They did not hate it

To paraphrase Carlo Jones in Ben Moor's always excellent Undone, the book chapter for MUP has been peer reviewed, the comments have come back, and they "did not hate it".

They were very kind actually, which as someone who has never been peer reviewed, or done a chapter for an academic book before, was a nice surprise.

The next step? Read through all the feedback properly and plan what needs doing, how, when, how long it's going to take etc.


The book pile has changed quite a bit since I last took a picture of it, and reflects a combination of reading for pleasure and trying to sort my head out type reading matter.

Have also discovered that reading self help books is a legitimate form of therapy, it even has a name: Bibliotherapy, and is reckoned to be pretty effective when set against other therapies for the milder end of depression and anxiety. Given how starved of cash my local health authority and council is, it's  just as well the libraries here have decided to go big on self help books.

LONE JUSTICE/MARIA MCKEE - Dreams Come True





I woke up in a Lone Justice period Maria McKee kind of mood this morning...

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

I Give You Power





Regularly consulting Florence Welch's twitter feed has it's rewards :)

Monday, 23 January 2017

Done it!

I have finished and dispatched the first draft of my chapter on punk women and fanzines!

This was the only photo I thought might convey Work Being Done, but it doesn't really look that impressive now I upload it.

I had a really hard time writing this chapter, it was like pulling teeth, and I didn't start to get into it and enjoy it until about a month ago.

So I'm very pleased it's done. I hope they like it at MUP...

The next task is to finish the book proposal for the punk women book. Not sure how long that will take, but it's not been as bad as I thought it would be to do, so hopefully not too long.




Sunday, 15 January 2017

My favourite new band of the past year



I can't quite remember when it was that I first heard Overcoats, I just know it was sometime last year. If I login to my Spotify account I daresay I can find out exactly when it was as it was thanks to them that I found them, via one of the new music weekly playlists I subscribe to.

It wasn't the hauntingly beautiful 'Little Memory' (which you can watch above) that I heard first, but the unsettling, eerie folkatronic 'Smaller Than My Mother', which despite it's sparseness, proved to be a particularly nagging ear worm... A good one though, not an annoying one, as you can hear below...


I don't know an awful lot about this duo, but they are Hana Elion and JJ Mitchell, and they are from New York. Their debut EP was released in the summer of 2015, and they've since spent a lot of time gigging in Europe, particularly Dublin, when word of their aceness travelled beyond the US.

I like watching the way they interact with each other in their performances, there seems to be an easy friendship and comradeship there that enhances their performances as much as the quality of their songwriting does.

I am really looking forward to hearing more from them in 2017.






Sunday, 1 January 2017

Helen McCookerybook and Charlie Tipper - Femme Fatale



December 2016: All proceeds of the sale of this sly and stylish take on the Velvet Underground and Nico classic will go to Refugee Action.

Even more so than Brexit, the refugee crisis has been the big story of the year, influencing world events, elections, commentary and media coverage not just in the UK but in France, Germany, Netherlands, the US and beyond in ways that we simply could not have predicted back in 2015.

Beyond the hysterical headlines and attention seeking politics are real human lives, real human stories. And I think that that has largely been forgotten.

Goodbye 2016, hello 2017. Let's hope it's a better year for all of us.