Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Emmy the Great - Mahal Kita | Acoustic live session in Paris



This is Emmy The Great performing an acoustic version of the title track from her current album, Mahal Kita. There are lots of good quality single song live clips of Emmy available online, and you can also watch a musical postcard from Emmy The Great online, in full. 

Emma Pollock - Old Ghosts (Live at Celtic Connections 2016)



This is Emma Pollock performing 'Old Ghosts' at Celtic Connections 2016. It wasn't her first visit to Celtic Connections and, while I've been unable to find a good enough quality full live set of Emma for you, I do recommend her cover of Billy Connelly's 'Everybody Knows That' from 2010's Celtic Connections festival. 

Monday, 24 July 2017

Fantasy Festival #3: The Modern Classics Festival - Lineup

Skating Polly: Skating Polly are a teenage sister duo from Oklahoma, comprised of the fantastically named Kelli Mayo and Peyton Bighorse. They formed in 2009 and have been taken under the wing of  Babes In Toyland (who took Skating Polly on tour with them a couple of years back) and more recently Nina Gordon and Louise Post of Veruca Salt. They make visceral, sometimes angry, sometimes eerie and unsettling guitar driven punk rock in the grunge tradition.

Miya Folick: Miya Folick is a Los Angeles based singer/songwriter who comes from an acting background and makes slightly otherworldly indie rock. She has the kind of voice that can quite literally stop you in your tracks, and you can read an interview with her in Vogue, of all places, from last year. 

Emma Pollock: Legend of the Glasgow music scene, co-founder of Chemikal Underground records, and a former Delgado, Emma Pollock is flying solo these days. Her music is experimental and pared down, making use of strings as much as guitars, understated and stylish. Her current album, In Search of Harperfield, was nominated for the Scottish Album of the Year award in June.

Emmy The Great: Musician and culture writer, Anglo-Chinese Emmy The Great grew up in East Grinstead, and has been making music since 2006. I hesitate to call her a bedroom folk artist, because I've never felt it to be much of a compliment, but I do see her as someone who creates amazing sonic landscapes largely independently much like Nancy Elizabeth. Her album, Mahal Kita, is out now.

Jesca Hoop: Former Mormon, former nanny to Tom Waits' children, and persuaded to decamp from the US to distinctly unsunny Manchester by a certain Guy Garvey. It was always going to be an intriguing backstory, even before Jesca Hoop started to release records. Memories Are Now, her fourth album, was released last year. She is electrifying live, almost Shamanic. She played Latitude on 16th July, and continues to tour and play festivals throughout the summer.

Laura Mvula: I really loved Laura Mvula's debut album, Sing To The Moon, and, while I couldn't get into the follow up, The Dreaming Room, I was still shocked to hear that Sony had dropped her (by email!) earlier this year. Even if The Dreaming Room wasn't my cup of tea, musically, I respected it as a record because it was experimental and new, and was a strong departure from the debut album, which had it's roots in jazz, blues, and soul. Laura is touring at the moment, and into Autumn, so there are plenty of chances to see her live.

Martha Wainwright: Martha Wainwright has been releasing records from 2005 onwards, and her music has taken a number of differing musical twists and turns along the way, from the bloody minded folky j'accuse of 'Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole' to the slinky soul groove of the more recent 'Take The Reins'. She is currently on the Canadian and US leg of her tour.

PJ Harvey: Polly Jean Harvey has been making music since the early 1990s and, as you would expect, her music has evolved and changed considerably in the past (nearly) thirty years, as has her singing voice. In recent years she has been reinventing the protest song and the radio ballad, and has diversified into poetry and broadcasting. One thing Harvey has never lost is her integrity, and her approach to music in recent years has reflected that.


Saturday, 22 July 2017

A positive story about the Glastonbury festival

Anyone who's been regularly reading my blog since the end of June will know that I've been posting a lot of stuff around the theme of women and festivals recently.

This all stemmed from a detailed report that the BBC did into festivals over the past ten years, which revealed a distinct lack of female headliners at festivals as well as that festival headliners were getting older and whiter. The report was released on the eve of this years Glastonbury Festival, which tends to be the sacrificial goat when it comes to festival criticism. I think the fact that Glastonbury is the biggest and most well established of the UK festivals, not to mention the most televised, might have something to do with this. Although the festival's radical, idealistic post hippie roots combined with its contemporary ticket prices are also part of the reason why it tends to get the most stick, rightly or wrongly.

My own response to the BBC report was critical of Glastonbury, in as much as I agreed with the NME that Florence + The Machine should have been offered a headline slot in their own right in 2015 rather than have got a headline slot by accident, but I did try not to single out Glastonbury for criticism specifically because I feel the issues raised in the BBC report are issues affecting festivals in general, not just Glastonbury.

As to why I, personally, can't ever envision myself attending Glastonbury this is a basic equation of: Cost of ticket, travel and camping equipment combined with not knowing in advance who you are going to see = Approximately £300 (probably more, if we include food) spend on festival with potentially very few, or no, bands playing I would like to see. I did spend something in the region of £300 attending British Summer Time last year (I'm including the London hotel bill there..) but I did that knowing who I was going to see, which made all the difference.

As an interesting sideline, it's food for thought that Jeremy Corbyn's appearance at Glastonbury this year gathered equal amount of interest/coverage to that of any of the musical headliners. Which in some ways is a positive thing, reflecting perhaps the youth surge in the 2017 General Election, but it's equally as much a sign of the times so far as changing attitudes of festival audiences are concerned. Not necessarily as much of a warning sign as the New York Times' decision  last year not to cover Coachella and Bonnaroo anymore, in that they felt that both festivals had become a poseurs paradise, the various bands playing effectively no more than decorative wallpaper to the punters gazing adoringly into their phones, but a definite change nonetheless.

With all this in mind, it was oddly heartwarming to read Lifeonlauralane's recent blog post about the fantastic, above and beyond, support she received as an attendee of this years Glastonbury Festival. Despite the traumatic circumstances that led her to contact the festival and ask for help, it's clear from her story that the event staff went above and beyond to ensure she felt safe attending the event. There are reasons why Glastonbury is the most popular and well attended of UK festivals and, hopefully, the attitude of its staff is one reason why people keep coming back.


Thursday, 20 July 2017

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Estelle "Conqueror" on Skyville Live



This is Estelle performing a particularly fine rendition of 'Conqueror' on Skyville Live. I haven't been able to find a full live set of Estelle online unfortunately, but I have been reacquainting myself with her collaboration with Ben Watt, 'Pop a Cap in Yo Ass', a particularly fine tune. She's also recently released 'Woman's World' in support of Planned Parenthood.

The Staves - No Me, No You, No More (Glastonbury, 2015)



This is the Staves performing 'No Me, No You, No More' at Glastonbury 2015. You can watch the full Glastonbury 2015 set online. 

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Fantasy Festival #2: The Slightly Serious Festival - Lineup

Julia Jacklin: Julia Jacklin is an Australian singer/songwriter from the Blue Mountains, who has lived in Sydney for several years but is currently based in Barcelona. Her debut album, Don't Let The Kids Win, was released in October 2016. She makes catchy folk pop songs, and her voice is ever so slightly reminiscent of a young Kristen Hersh. She has just, in the past two days, played at Latitude, and is right in the middle of a load of European festival dates. 

Kelsey Lu: Kelsey Lu is a classically trained cellist who combines sparse highly atmospheric musical compositions with a real stop-'em-in-their-tracks voice. Her back story is an interesting one, and she seems to have been quickly taken under the wing of a number of supportive artists, which bodes well.   She has just played the Night + Day Festival in Iceland, and will be playing a series of US dates in the autumn.

The Staves: The Staves are a trio of folk rock singing sisters from London who have released two albums, 2012's Dead & Born & Grown and 2015's If I Was. Recent single 'Tired As Fuck' hinted at a more rock direction for the band, who are not currently touring, and are perhaps working on new material.

Estelle: Estelle, the London singer/songwriter whose musical output cannot clearly be tagged as purely soul when it also includes aspects of R&B, grime, hip hop and areas of dance music, has released four albums and has won several MOBO's plus one Grammy (for her Kanye West collaboration, 'American Boy') she is a musically versatile and commanding performer who performed a lot in 2016, but is not currently touring.

Regina Spektor: Regina Spektor is an American/Russian singer/songwriter who will be playing some UK dates in the next couple of weeks. Although best known for the song 'Samson', her musical output and style is more varied than that particular song would suggest, combining Russian folk elements on one hand and hip hop beats on the other.

Natacha Atlas: Natacha Atlas is an Egyptian-Belgium singer whose early work in the 1990s included collaborations with the global dance band Transglobal Underground. She combines Arabic music and western pop of a number of styles to create everything from atmospheric laments to global dance music. She will be playing two dates in France this year, one in August, one in October. 

Patti Smith: The legendary Patti Smith released her debut album, Horses, in 1975 and has been written of as the 'Godmother of punk', thanks to the cataclysmic effect Horses had on a number of artists on both sides of the Atlantic. Since punk, she has continued to be a musical touchstone and inspiration, meaning she has inspired artists as far apart as The Raincoats and Florence + The Machine. She played British Summer Time last year, second on the bill to Massive Attack. She is currently touring Europe.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Thursday, 13 July 2017

The album of the summer is here!

Gothic Tropic's debut album, Fast or Feast, was released in May which, in these days of climate change, counts as the start of summer. I've developed a theory over the last couple of years that an album's release date in some way syncs to its overall seasonal feel and, as such, am ready to declare Fast or Feast to be the summer album of 2017.

'Your Soul' is a particularly glittering summer anthem, and it helps that the band are from LA and make sunshine drenched guitar indie rock.

At times Cecilia Della Peruti sounds almost Debbie Harry ish in her vocals (particularly on 'Teenage Behaviour' and parts of 'Your Soul'), but the intricate, almost post punk pop nature of the songs themselves remind me more of Adult Net, while at the same time sounding both fresh and timeless.

'How Life Works', 'Your Soul', 'Don't Give Me Up' and 'Stronger' are all blessed with great hooks and catchy choruses, but include a knowing quality and life smart lyrics that complicate the sunshine pop elements:

'They're not selling seats; they're selling fear' Peruti observes on 'Stronger'.

There's also the more experimental tracks, including 'Chemical Trail', 'If It Had A Body', and the almost lullabying 'Feed You To The Sharks', which is a subtly disquieting way to close an album.

Because it's so short (just over half an hour in length) you're left with a real desire for more and, as such, it's been on heavy rotation since I bought it a couple of weeks back.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Stevie Nicks - "Edge Of Seventeen" [Live In Chicago]



Stevie Nicks performing the epic 'Edge of Seventeen' live in Chicago. The album version of the song is over five minutes long but, in live performance, it's much, much longer.

This is the closest I get to classic rock territory, basically, and if you recognise the guitar riff that's because it was sampled by Destiny's Child for 'Bootylicious'.

There are many, many full live sets of Stevie Nicks both solo and as part of Fleetwood Mac available online. Most of the solo sets are from the 1980s, so I've picked out a concert from 1982 for you. It might be that more recent stuff becomes available in a few months or so online.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Gothic Tropic - Stronger - Live



A live version of the current single, 'Stronger', this clip captures GT on the road on a recent tour date.

The band's full set at The Satellite in LA is available to watch in it's entirety online.

Vagabon - Cleaning house



I wasn't able to track down a festival performance by Vagabon as she's simply too new and there's not a lot of footage out there. This is an intimate performance in a small venue, providing an insight into the quieter end of her sprawling indie rock sound. Her full Audiotree live session is available to watch in it's entirety online.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Fantasy Festival #1: The Epic Festival - Lineup

Vagabon: Vagabon, aka Laetitia Tamko, hails from New York and released her debut album, Infinite Worlds, earlier this year. You can read about her in W Magazine, and you will find her music over on Bandcamp. She makes sprawling, raw indie rock with authenticity and heart.

Gothic Tropic: Cecilia Della Peruti hails from Los Angeles, and there seems to be some dispute online as to whether Gothic Tropic is Peruti alone, or whether Gothic Tropic is a band. The debut album, Fast or Feast, was released in the UK back in May. I was charmed by the bands set at The Castle as part of the Manchester leg of Dot To Dot at the end of May, and the album is an indie pop classic, with a sheen of California post punk pop and the intricacies of Adult Net. You can read about Gothic Tropic on DIY Mag.

Laura Gibson: Laura Gibson is a quietly established singer/songwriter who, until fairly recently, was based in Portland, Oregon. Her current, and third, album, Empire Builder, was released in 2016 and reflects the stark and understated nature of her songwriting. She is playing some UK dates in August.

Lily & Madeleine: Lily & Madeleine are two sisters from Indiana who play sophisticated folky pop. Their current album, Keep It Together, was released last year to critical acclaim, and they are currently touring the US in support to John Mellencamp.

Neko Case: Coming on like the lovechild of Patsy Cline and Gene Vincent, Neko Case makes gorgeously evocative Americana. She is one third of Case/Lang/Veirs, and also plays with The New Pornographers. She has released so many solo albums now that I have actually lost count and is resident in Canada. Her most recent solo album is the very presciently titled The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You and she has just come back from a short tour with The New Pornographers.

Bat For Lashes: Natasha Khan, aka Bat For Lashes, released her debut album, Fur and Gold, in 2006. Two Suns, which followed in 2009, included the haunting 'Daniel', and brooding 'Sleep Alone'. The Bride, which was released last year, is her fourth album. Her songs are both haunting and beautiful, always atmospheric and gorgeous.

Stevie Nicks: There is the Stevie Nicks who is a member of Fleetwood Mac, and then there is Stevie Nicks the solo artist. My friend, David Wilkinson, has a theory as to why so many hipsters like the McVie/McVie/Fleetwood/Nicks/Buckingham lineup of Fleetwood Mac: he puts it down to the success of Tango In The Night in the mid-late 1980s, when the hipsters were children, meaning Fleetwood Mac serve as a sort of musical comfort blanket for them. Solo Nicks tends to be more rock, a bit harder, a bit tougher, a bit more visceral. She is playing British Summer Time festival at Hyde Park on 9th July as the main support to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and will then be touring the US.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Return of fever

Following on from the BBC's report on the gender gap at music festivals, and related trends over the past ten years, I've found myself returning to the issue again.

Having had my own response to the report, and to the World Service's coverage of the report, published on The F-Word last week, I've been thinking of ways that I can promote some of the women I mentioned at the very end of my piece.

As I was coming to the end of the piece, I was starting to think about the kind of festival that I would pay to attend. Who would it be comprised of? I used Florence Welch's answer to the 'Which women would you like to see headlining Glastonbury?' question when she was asked it in 2016 as my starting point, as I liked her choices. I then started to think, seriously, about who I would want to see and how I would arrange the bills.

The upshot of this is that I have made lists of 7 possible festival bills that I would happily pay to go and see. These are small bills, 7 or 8 artists a time, for a fictional one day festival that I would call The Fever Festival. I've arranged the bills in terms of smaller, newer artists towards the bottom of the bill, emerging and semi established artists in the middle, and established artists headlining and taking the 2nd, 3rd and (in some cases) 4th place on the bill.

I've tried to mix it up musically, and in terms of age, ethnicity and sexuality. I didn't get very far with being disabled friendly though, and I think the invisibility of disabled artists within the music industry is something that needs tackling on a wider scale anyway, and at this stage, it would be hard to tackle it in any meaningful way by an exercise as frivolous as this.

Needless to say, all of the artists I've included on my fictional festival bills are artists I'd happily pay to see live.

Of the 7 actual headliners I've picked, only 1 of them (and regular readers will be able to guess straight away which one) has headlined a festival in the last 10 years. Given some of the choices I've made, this might surprise you as, in slight deference to the prevalence of what the BBC report describes as 'Heritage acts', I have included two headliners who would fall into that category. This was consciously done, not because I think festivals should be always headlined by artists in their sixties and older, but because I wanted to play the promoters at their own game and also would love to see the two artists in question headline festivals in their own right, having both been second on the bill to male acts over the past couple of years.

Of the other four headliners, I would say that one is very established artist who has been around for nearly thirty years and has played at many festivals, several times, without being offered a headline slot, one is a young singer who is very big in the pop world but not in the festival world, one created a big splash with her debut English language album last year and played some festivals, was not high up the bill, but would do justice to a headline slot, and the third one is an established but not best selling artist who has recently launched a solo career, has never made it to the main stage of a festival, but is an electrifying performer who would be more than up to the job of headlining a festival.

These are, of course, personal choices and readers will no doubt be able to create their own versions of their own fantasy festival bill, just as I have.

I'm going to post a series of live clips between now and the end of August of all the 53 performers I identified in my piece as being festival and/or headliner material. Ideally, I would be posting well filmed clips of the artists playing at festivals, as many of them have put the hours in at innumerable festivals. Unfortunately, this hasn't always been possible because, while many of them have played festivals, their performances either weren't filmed or were filmed badly and, as such, aren't useable. The way I've approached this problem is to use the following criteria;

1) Is there a clip of the artist performing at a festival and is it of useable quality?

2) If not, is there a clip of the artist playing a live gig to an audience, and is it useable?

3) If not, is there a clip of the artist playing a live session somewhere, ideally in almost gig conditions, and is it useable?

4) If not, is there a promo video available, ideally showing the artist simulating a live performance?

Of all the 53 artists I'm including, there was only one where I had to use option 4, and that was because the artist in question is so new that there's very little beyond promo videos available online.

Festival number 1 starts this Friday, and I will be posting a mock poster of the 'bill' later this week, along with an overview of my choices ahead of Friday. In terms of the videos I'll be posting, it would have been possible in a number of a cases to post full, good quality, festival sets in their entirety but I've chosen not to do so because it would widen the gap between my headliners and artists located further down the bill. Where I'm aware of a good quality full set being available online, I'll endeavour to signpost you to it in the blog posts that accompany each video.

Friday, 30 June 2017

'...It is the aftermath of fever'

Some pieces take longer than others. 

As regular readers will know, I likened my recent (ish) experience of writing a chapter on women, punk and fanzines for a book on punk and fanzines to pulling teeth: Painful, long winded, with lots of agonising, re-doing, picking at it...

By contrast, the piece I have just had published on The F-Word, on the theme of women and music festivals, was written in a sort of feverish state last weekend. All credit to F-Word music editor, Jo Whitehead, for turning it around so quickly.

The sequence of events goes like this:

On Thursday 22nd June, I was half listening to the World Service while cooking my tea when they suddenly started talking about Glastonbury. No one I like is playing Glastonbury this year (or, indeed, ever seems to really, by and large...) so I wasn't really listening, until it became apparent that this was going to be a report on the lack of women playing music festivals, and I found myself listening, wearily at first, then angrily.

I seethed for about 24 hours afterwards, I think, then re-listened to the news bulletin in question on iplayer, did some further reading, and went to bed on Friday night feeling a bit more thoughtful about it. But still, ultimately, annoyed.

I got up for work at 7am on Saturday morning, had my breakfast, and as I ate, I began to get an idea for a piece about the whole issue of women and music festivals. I have to leave for work at 8:15am on Saturdays, which is a lie in for me because the 191 doesn't run on Saturdays so it's the 192 and they run more regularly. Anyway, this meant that I had exactly 15 minutes between 8am and 8:15am to plan the piece, which I did. In full. I then grabbed my stuff and legged it to the bus stop.

When I got home from work at just before 6pm, I sat down with the plan, read through it, switched my laptop on and wrote...

At about 8ish it occurred to me that I'd better have some tea. At 10 ish I remembered I was meant to have a shower. At midnight I thought 'I'd better go to bed now'.

I did sleep, but I was awake again by about 7am and up again, working on it, by about 8am. I eventually left it alone at about 10am in order to go into Manchester to buy the Gothic Tropic album at Piccadilly Records.

Then I had to go to the launderette and do the Co-Op leg of the food shop, then back home, work on the piece some more, do something else, work on the piece some more...

I finally stepped away from it at about half 11pm on Sunday night, having gone off on all sorts of weird and wonderful tangents throughout the day, many of which I subsequently excised around 11 ish just before I submitted it.

My final thought as I switched off the light and lay down in bed was: "There's an awful lot of Florence + The Machine in it. Will that be a problem?" I've been worrying about this a lot since, but now that the piece is up, I'm less worried. Because I know that I was using the band as an exampler and that I was writing in critical mode, not fan mode, and as such, I think it works.

It's not normally my style to write an opinion piece, or a j'accuse, and I don't think that the finished piece is one, as such, but it's much more of an opinion piece than I would usually write. Which I was uneasy about at first, but less so now. I was also uneasy because I'm not a festival veteran: As I wrote in my review of British Summer Time last year, my formative gig going years were spent at All Dayers, not Festivals. But, this is perhaps not so much of a problem as you might think, in that it allows me to take an outsider view on matters.

(Florence + The Machine, Ship To Wreck, live at British Summer Time 2016)

In recent years I've got very into a style of journalism that perhaps isn't traditional music journalism because it borrows from other areas, like economics, and which is generally less myth making and more dispassionate. I think the BBC report that inspired all of this falls into that category, and the articles from The Economist I've mentioned in my piece do as well. The Guardian, in it's reports on the industry side of the music business, also does interesting and enjoyable reportage and debate in this line.

As I see the piece up online, I am reminded, as I have been at intervals all week, of Paddy McAloon's 'I Trawl The Megahertz', a sort of stream of consciousness piece set to music, epic in scope. There is a pause at one point, a lull, in which the narrater, having expressed something close to mania just beforehand, concludes that the disillusionment that follows is 'The aftermath of fever'.

I hope that won't be the case. I have a lot of music to write about at the moment, if only because there are so many great albums out, but I'm not sure how those pieces will emerge yet, or when. I just know they will.

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.