Archive for the ‘Words’ Category

posted on December 12th, 2014

ALBUMS
Second amazing year in a row for albums. I’m not sure my #1 albums from 2011 and 2012 would’ve even made it inside the top 5 this year. Through 2014 I wrote down the records I loved (more than just ‘liked’) and it came to more than 60.

By the way I wrote a bit on my Top 10 for Chimeo.

1. Shellac – Dude Incredible (Tough & Go)
2. Splintered Man – Splintered Man (self-release)
3. Tom Williams & The Boat – Easy Fantastic (Wire Boat / Moshi Moshi)
4. The War On Drugs – Lost In The Dream (Secretly Canadian)
5. Jess Morgan – Langa Langa (self-release)
6. Swans – To Be Kind (Mute)
7. Mogwai – Rave Tapes (Rock Action)
8. Owl John – Owl John (Atlantic)
9. Taylor Swift – 1989 (Big Machine)
10. Xcerts – There Is Only You (Raygun Music)
11. Withered Hand – New Gods (Fortuna Pop!)
12. St Vincent – St Vincent (Loma Vista / Republic)
13. Sleaford Mods – Divide and Exit (Harbinger Sound)
14. Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues (Xtra Mile)
15. Kate Tempest – Everybody Down (Big Dada)
16. Simone Felice – Strangers (Team Love)
17. Retrospective Soundtrack Players – It’s A Wonderful Christmas Carol (Xtra Mile)
18. Luke Sital Singh – The Fire Inside (Raygun Music / Parlophone)
19. Mark McCabe – A Good Way To Bury Bad News (Shield Records)
20. Rumour Cubes – Appearances Of Collections (self-release)

Honourable mentions: Mono, Oxygen Thief, Future Islands, Manics, Ed Harcourt, Wild Beasts, Carnivores, Paolo Nutini, Sophie Ellis Bextor.

SONGS
These are my favourites regardless of genre.

1. Sia – Chandelier
2. Decemberists – Make You Better
3. Grasscut – Beacon
4. Ten Walls – Walking With Elephants
5. Flyte – Light Me Up
6. War On Drugs – Suffering
7. Swan Steps – I’ll Be The Line
8. Emily Barker’s upcoming film theme song (can’t remember the title)
9. Holly Herndon – Chorus
10. Ezra Furman – Ferguson, Burning!

Honourable mentions: Tom Williams & The Boat, Taylor Swift, Pepe Belmonte, Neneh Cherry & Robyn.

Midnight Campfire’s Song Of The Year 2014
10. Billy The Kid – Riverbank (Horseshoes and Hand Grenades, Xtra Mile)
9. Jon Boden – If You Want To See The General (Songs For The Voiceless, Haystack)
8. Kelly Oliver – Diamond Girl (This Land, Folkstock)
7. Darren Hayman – May Day 1894 (Chants For Socialists, WIAIWYA)
6. Co Pilgrim – I Know Love (Plumes, Battle Recordings)
5. Kings Of The South Seas – Eight Bells (Kings Of The South Seas, D.Wink)
4. O’Hooley & Tidow – Summat’s Brewin’ (The Hum, No Masters Co-op)
3. Splintered Man – Dartford Tunnel (Splintered Man, self-release)
2. Grasscut – Beacon (Lo Recordings)
1. Decemberists – Make You Better (What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World, Capitol)

GIGS SEEN
1. Ezra Furman & The Boyfriends – Brighthelm Centre, Brighton (Great Escape)
2. Tom Robinson Band performs Power In The Darkness – Bush Hall, London
3. Future Islands – Digital, Brighton (Great Escape)
4. St Vincent – Winter Garden, Eastbourne
5. Carter USM final show (last 45 minutes) – Brixton Academy
6. Connect_icut, Meatbreak and Steve Gisby – Prince Albert, Brighton
7. Smallgang – The Lexington, London
8. Luke Sital Singh, first three songs – Greenbelt Festival
9. MJ Hibbett – Hibbettfest
10. Sinead O’Connor – Greenbelt Festival
11. Steven James Adams – Truck Festival and The Lexington
12. Depeche Choad – Tunnels, Aberdeen
13. Emily Barker with Gill Sandell – in Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart and Deventer
14. Darren Hayman, Occupation #10 The Singles Night – Vortex Jazz Club, London
15. Oxygen Thief (full band) – Thekla, Bristol

Honourable mentions: Vina Portae and Co-Pilgrim in Oliver’s Swiss Cottage, Samantha Whates short set for Daylight’s birthday, Jon Gomm, Thee Faction & TV Smith at Orgreave Anniversary Concert, Negative Pegasus in Mrs Fitzherberts, Brighton, Ellen Cox, Christy DeHaven, Gill Sandell with Anna Jenkins, Mark McCabe, Swan Steps, Sarah Blackwood (Dubstar) & the Mystery Fax Machine Orchestra.

GIGS PLAYED
This year I played 104 shows. As usual I work out the “best” gigs list not based on how well I (we) perform, nor the ‘success’ of the event but purely based on how much I enjoyed being onstage at that show, for whatever reason. Although 2013 had a greater variety of gigs, overall I enjoyed 2014 quite a lot more – and this is a Hoodrats-heavy list because we fucking rocked.

1. The Lexington, London – Hoodrats headline
2. Truck Festival Veterans Stage – Hoodrats headline
3. Fabrik, Hamburg – solo set supporting Emily Barker
4. Isle Of Man Prison – acoustic set for women prisoners
5. De Roma, Antwerp – Hoodrats show supporting Tom Robinson
6. Wedfest, Suffolk – solo set at Sophie & Blaine’s wedding festival
7. Port St Mary Town Hall, Isle Of Man – solo set supporting Jon Gomm
8. Die Backerie, Innsbruck – solo show with Mark McCabe
9. Dome Studio, Brighton – Hoodrats headline
10. Thekla, Bristol – Hoodrats headline
11. Milla, Munich / Keller Klub, Stuttgart – solo set supporting Emily Barker
12. Star Of Kings, Kings Cross – short solo set for Science Showoff
13. Union Chapel, Hoodrats quiet show for Daylight Music
14. Book Yer Ane Fest VIII, Dundee – short Hoodrats set
15. St John’s Primary School, Isle Of Man – solo workshop set for year 6

Honourable mentions: Aberdeen Tunnels with Hoodrats, songwriters circle with Martin Joseph at Greenbelt Festival, Swiss house concert on the tour with Mark and Ellen, Carter USM aftershow for the occasion and Orgreave concert at the Buffalo Bars.

GIGS ON SMALL SCREENS
1. Savages ‘Fuckers’ video shot live at the Forum
2. Future Islands on Letterman
3. Shellac at Phoenix Festival 1994 on YouTube
4. Kiah Victoria house show for Sofar NYC, shot on phone by Rhodri Marsden
5. Olly’s student video at Falmouth University
6. Young Musician of the Year Percussion Final
7. Jack White’s RSD gig / super-fast single manufacture
8. Swan Steps first three songs on YouTube
9. Alex Allmont’s Lego generative music automata
10. Kiran Leonard at 6Music Festival

Honourable mentions: Mogwai at Glastonbury, Taylor Swift does Vance Joy’s ‘Riptide’ in the Live Lounge, Chvrches at Glastonbury, PINS at 6Music Festival, The National at 6Music Festival, Ellie Goulding at Coachella, Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls at Coachella, Drenge at Reading Festival.

FILM
I still haven’t seen a whole bunch of the important films of 2014, so this Top 10 feels very sketchy. STILL need to watch CitizenFour (where’s that vanished to?), Under The Skin, Boyhood, Only Lovers Left Alive, The Wind Rises or Princess Kaguya, and many others. In September Jen and Jon got me Duke Of York’s membership for my birthday, so I’ve already started seeing more films. 2015 will be a film-heavy year…

1. Blue Ruin
2. The Lego Movie (3D)
3. The Punk Singer
4. 20,000 Days On Earth
5. We Are The Best!
6. Dirty Wars
7. 20 Feet From Stardom
8. All Is Lost
9. The Lady In Number Six
10. The Hunger Games 2

TELEVISION
1. Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle season 3
2. Louie season 4
3. High Maintenance web series
4. The Walking Dead season 4 esp episodes 6 &7
5. The Fall
6. The Bridge season 2
7. The Good Wife
8. Dolphins: Spy In The Pod
9. The Trip To Italy
10. Hinterland season 1

Honourable mentions: Colbert RIP!, The Newsroom start of season 3, Game Of Thrones, Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe, House Of Cards season 2, Ian Hislop’s Olden Days, Girls, Bob’s Burgers, Broad City, Sacred Monuments, PMQs, W1A, True Detective season 1, Louis CK on Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians In Cars Get Coffee,

ART
After a slow start, 2014 became my favourite year for exhibitions for half a decade; I got blown away several times, especially doing an art break to Amsterdam, plus Rifa taking me to Matisse, and on tour in Germany.

1. Kunst Frühling, Bremen
2. Matisse – The Cut Outs at Tate Modern
3. The New Sublime at Phoenix Gallery, Brighton
4. Permanent collection at the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
5. Yinka Shonibare ‘The British Library’ at Brighton Museum for House 2014
6. Mick Stephenson – People Like Us at Freedom Festival’s Long Walk To Freedom, Hull
7. Rembrandt at Reijsmuseum, Amsterdam
8. War Stories at Brighton Museum
9. Louise Ashcroft introduces her work, both times at YCIAYAID
10. east London graffiti guided tour for my birthday
11. Shardcore’s Hipsterbait bot / ‘me amongst the apes’ portrait
12. Permanent collection at Stederlijk Gallery, Amsterdam
13. Curtis James – Makers at Brighton Photo Biennale
14. rediscovering Raphael, permanent collection at the V&A
15. artists’ crazy golf course at Templehof Fields, Berlin
16. 20 Painters at Phoenix Gallery, Brighton
17. Felix Vallotten at the Van Gogh Museum
18. Hummingbirds by Jake Wood Evans at Ink_D
19. Alex Allmont’s Lego generative music automata on YouTube
20. Jameel Prize 3 at the V&A (Arabic calligraphy-based art)

Honourable mention: Digital Revolution at the Barbican which was very fun but very shallow.

BOOKS
1. Paul KingsnorthThe Wake
2. Robert Macfarlane – The Old Ways
3. Ben MyersBeastings
4. J B MorrisonThe Extra Ordinary Wotsit Of Frank Derrick
5. Marcus O’DairDifferent Every Time: The Authorised Biography Of Robert Wyatt
6. Thomas PikettyCapital in the 21st Century
7. Koethi ZanThe Never List
8. Dave EggersThe Circle
9. Patrick BarkhamBadgerlands
10. V A FearonThe Girl With The Treasure Chest

Not new but I loved: Vicky Coren’s For Richer For Poorer, Alan Johnson’s This Boy and Ian F. Svenonius’ Super-Natural Strategies for Making A Rock’n’roll Group given to me by Billy Reeves.

ESSAYS / BLOG ENTRIES
New category alert! Perhaps this is why I read fewer books this year, because I found myself reading a far greater number of essays and articles, in particular driven by them getting reviewed or recommended on podcasts. Maybe that’s how my cultural consumption rolls nowadays, as I move from music radio to spoken radio, my follow-ups shift accordingly…
1. Ta-Nehisi Coates in The Atlantic – The Case For Reparation
2. Paul Mason – what happens next in a world without framework?
3. Arch Druid’s Report
4. Frank Rich‘s New York magazine interview with Chris Rock
5. Dougald Hine for FSCONS on Full Commonism
6. Stewart Lee interviews Julian Cope in Quietus
7. Emily Bazelon in NYT on the rise of the post-clinic abortion
7. Birguslatro in Carcinisation – The Last of the Monsters with Iron Teeth
8. Paul Blest in The Runout’s on fan slacktivism killing punk
9. Nat Kane on The Babadook and designing with, not at
10. Jody Rosen in NYT T magazine on The Knowledge

Also: rediscovering Orwell’s classic essays

THEATRE / SPOKEN / NON MUSIC PERFORMANCE
1. Dave Douglass remembers the Battle of Orgreave at the Buffalo Bars
2. Acrojou – ‘The Wheel House’ at Freedom Festival, Hull
3. Lawrence Abu Hamdan at Improving Reality
4. Caroline Lucas at She Says Brighton
5. Jacques Peretti potted history of consumerism at TEDxBrighton
6. Hofesh Schecter – ‘Sun’ at The Dome, Brighton
7. Deanna Rodger poetry at TEDxBrighton
8. Elise Bramich drinks her first glass of milk
9. Charlotte Young fictional talk for Science Showoff
10. Nadia El-Imam (Edgeryders) at Improving Reality
11. Sam Roddick throws out her planned talk at TEDxBrighton
12. Robin Ince at the Three & Ten
13. Mark Kermode & Simon Mayo at the Duke Of York’s
14. George Egg making hotel breakfast at Latitude Festival
15. Susan Schuppli at Improving Reality

Honourable mentions: Honor Harger and Justin Pickard at Clearleft’s Connections #1, Charlotte Y’s Gormley talk, Bec Hill at Science Showoff, Elise B at Science Showoff, Joanna Neary at the Three & Ten.

SPOKEN WORD AUDIO
1. Slate Culturefest conversation about art vs behaviour and Woody Allen
2. Radiolab: Happy Birthday Bobbie K – Robert Krulwich’s alligator story
3. Slate Gabfest – 4 Sep, Will Dobson on the state of the world
4. This American Life: The Secret Recordings Of Carmen Segarra
5. Raja Shehadeh’s Desert Island Discs, BBC Radio 4
6. Wittertainment
7. In Our Time: The Philosophy Of Solitude
8. Vinay Gupta talks to Bitcoiners about the future
9. Serial
10. This American Life: Good Guys

Honourable mentions: Mary Beard: Oh Do Shut Up Dear! London Review of Books writer lecture, Slate: The Gist with Mike Pesca, Slate Gabfest and Culturefest generally, Charlie Peverett at Dare Conference and Frank Turner at Cambridge Union.

EATING OUT
1. The Bush, Ovington, Hampshire, gastro-pub taster menu
2. Terre A Terre, Brighton, vegetarian
3. Stach deli, Amsterdam, deli snacks and hot chocolate
4. Tippling House Aberdeen, dinner and Andy’s immense cocktail
5. catered dinner at De Roma, Antwerp
6. Tiffin Tin, north London, Indian takeaway
7. Bento, Camden, sushi and bento
8. The Logierait Inn, between Pitlochry and Aberfeldy, band dinner
9. Agile Rabbit, Brixton Village, hipster pizza
10. Stederlijk Gallery Restaurant, Amsterdam, burger with hint of Japan
11. Lounge, Brixton traffic light cocktail goat’s cheese slada etc.
12. Burgersheewuiss Café catering, Deventer, vegetables and potato thing
13. Patchwork Café, Port St Mary, Isle Of Man, simple café food
14. Thai in Frankfurt was great, can’t remember the place
15. Horse & Groom, Alresford, Hampshire, red soup and chips (!)

Honourable mentions for Northern Lights, Ramsey’s hippie home cooked food, Velo Café, Brighton and Pancake Corner, Amsterdam.

DRINKING
1. corpse reviver #2 by Andy Stewart in Aberdeen
2. omfg Japanese whiskey, can’t remember which one
3. Benj Murray’s martini
4. Venezuelan rum courtesy Digger Barnes in Hamburg
5. absinthe night in Jena, Germany
6. traffic light cocktail in Brixton Lounge

From Words
posted on December 10th, 2014

Here’s the playlist for Chris T-T’s Midnight Campfire show #17, first broadcast on Wed 10 Dec 2014. You can listen to this episode in full, online here. read more

Chris T-T’s Midnight Campfire has a couple of announcements around Christmas and New Year.  read more

From Words
posted on December 3rd, 2014

Here’s the playlist for Chris T-T’s Midnight Campfire, show #16, first broadcast Wed 3 Dec 2014. This episode includes an hour dedicated to songs about birds. You can listen to it in full HERE. read more

posted on November 26th, 2014

Here’s the playlist for Chris T-T’s Midnight Campfire, show #15, first broadcast Wed 26 Nov 2014. This episode includes an hour dedicated to the life and music of Robert Wyatt, including an interview with Marcus O’Dair, who wrote the new authorised Wyatt biography Different Every Time. read more

From Words
posted on November 20th, 2014

Here’s the playlist for Chris T-T’s Midnight Campfire, show #14, Wed 19 Nov 2014. read more

From Words
posted on November 13th, 2014

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
Henry David Thoreau, from Walden

In response to a characteristically brilliant and challenging piece by Paul Kingsnorth in the London Review of Books, Labour-left blogger and tweeter Ellie Mae O’Hagan (@misselliemae) published this pithy, sarcastic tweet:

ellie
It wasn’t the debate (such as it was) between these two that piqued my interest. It was O’Hagan’s inclusion of the example of not having children, with her other “comedy extreme” examples of building a nuclear bunker and dying young.

O’Hagan’s no Blairite centrist, not pro the current corporate hegemony. She’s to the left of Labour, a fierce, admirable activist and writer. So it’s fascinating to me that even someone like her can equate (mockingly) a decision not to have children (clearly meant to be read as ridiculous) with a nuclear bunker hidey-hole and an early death.

I (we) don’t have children, at least partly for ecological reasons. That decision is something I reflect upon a lot. I know I’ll feel sad about it in the future, yet news about the state of the world often makes me feel powerfully relieved that I’m not contributing in that way to the overall consumptive mess.

But it’s idiocy to present that as a reneging of some kind of responsibility, or an extremist’s reaction, as so often happens like this in mainstream cultural communication. It’s fascinating that within my life (particularly as we age, along with our social circle) it becomes a question I’m expected to answer – why haven’t we? – as opposed to the greater question that could travel in the other direction – why did you? – yet rarely does, still bearing a ridiculous sense of being socially unacceptable. I’ve even found myself pretending to acknowledge it’s my “selfish” decision not to breed, to make the answer feel easier for people who ask. While deep down thinking the very opposite. It’s taboo.

So, er, why did you? 

What, don’t you bloody LIKE my kids!? They’re ACE!

What are the remaining selfless, outward looking reasons for having children in today’s world? Especially when children out there need adopting? Or do parents generally acknowledge it to be a fundamentally inward-looking, desire-based decision? Without meaning any disrespect, in my heart I know it as an inherently self-serving act (albeit co-ordinated with powerful biological imperatives).

Everyone’s presumption is that their own child will offer something unique, maybe even something so outstanding it singlehandedly counter-acts the global problems, because of that perfect nature of individuality where that is possible. How dare you question us: in 25 years my little Timmy will end the world’s food shortage! Despite huge numbers of wonderful offerings from smart humans; after all this time, we still head gradually for disaster while most people live in horrific, exhausted, soul-demolishing circumstances that they fight, day after day, to make the meagre best of, while those of us who have basic comfort don’t give a shit. If technology will save us all (rather than just saving the super-rich in the secret mountain) can it bloody hurry up please?

Your children aren’t special.
Bill Hicks

Undeniably there are too many humans on planet Earth. Unquestionably the world (as it is now) is being slowly devastated, not just by the greed and expansionism of a callow few (although there is that) but by the vast majority of normal, decent people around the world, trying to make their way within systems and infrastructures that were built in earlier periods of history, when we had space to go forth and multiply. That’s you and me – and our kids.

This reaches towards the core problem with mainstream environmentalism. The only viable solutions have a big effect on our comfort levels. The only viable solutions fundamentally alter our deeply embedded social and cultural ambitions for ourselves. In many ways, the only viable solutions require us to completely rebuild our sense of ourselves from the ground up. That’s how big the ask is. The scratching-at-the-edges solutions that we do engage with en masse (recycling, changing lightbulbs, a bit of middle-class composting, ooh I bought a fixed gear bike!) have negligible effect without an entirely different paradigm of global political and corporate willpower.

And we know this. And the Green Party can’t even get in the TV election debates.

Three things to save the planet: ditch cars, ditch the global meat trade and stop having kids. Me, out on the extreme? A skeptical reader reacting negatively to this blog entry is actually far more of a climate fatalist than I am: at least I chose a path to shift the riverflow of the rest of my days, for reasons of climate.

No, they’re the ones building a nuclear bunker, perpetuating what they think they need, for lack of the courage to step outside.

We are screwed.

Oh, by the way, look over there: some new episodes of High Maintenance on Vimeo.

From Words
posted on November 1st, 2014

One of my very favourite films of 2013 (and I think my favourite ever short) is a three-minute work by Hartlepool artist Maxy Bianco, called Pig The Dog. I saw it screened with 15 others on a loop at the Baltic Gallery, as part of the Random Acts exhibition, supported by Channel 4.

Doing my ‘end of year chart’ I placed this short film second, with only Clio Barnard’s masterpiece The Selfish Giant above it – so it obviously made a huge, lasting impact. It’s about an unusual life spent on the semi-rural scrubland at the edge of a northern city.

For the first half of 2014, I regularly looked for it online and failed to find it. Then yesterday at TEDxBrighton, one of the speakers vividly reminded me to seek out Pig The Dog – and this time I’ve struck gold; it’s gone up on the filmmaker’s Vimeo site.

So here it is, if you have three minutes to spare. Even if you only bother with one thing I’ve banged on about in recent months, please make it this one. There’s some swearing but you can live with that.

 

Pig the Dog from Maxy Neil Bianco on Vimeo.

By the way, here’s my live-blogging account of the TEDxBrighton talk that inspired me to go back and look for Pig The Dog again, though better watch the film first, before reading anything I’ve said about the talk.

From Words
posted on October 29th, 2014

Here’s the playlist for Chris T-T’s Midnight Campfire show #11, Wed 29 Oct. read more

For years, one of my favourite songwriting anecdotes has been this story, about Fergal Sharkey’s two big 1980s hits. It goes like this: Sharkey’s massive solo smash ‘A Good Heart’ was written by Maria McKee (legendary Lone Justice singer and solo star) about Benmont Tench (equally legendary genius keys man in Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers). Then Sharkey’s follow-up hit, ‘You Little Thief’ was written by Tench in response to McKee, so Sharkey turned into smash hits these two songs that are actually a conversation.

I love that anecdote, I re-tell it whenever any of those people gets even the briefest mention. There’s magic in two passionate, both lyrically superbly crafted songs, attacking the depth and detail of a clearly doomed love affair from different angles, then the material getting discovered and ‘curated’ into the pair they’re meant to be, by an entirely different artist.

Sometimes I add Deacon Blue into the mix, who wrote ‘Real Gone Kid’ about McKee, making her the muse of two very different classic 1980s hits.

Anyway, sadly the other night I discovered it’s a myth. I retold it to a friend on Twitter when she mentioned ‘A Good Heart’ and – yes you know where this is going, only in social media – Mr Tench himself popped into the conversation to debunk the myth. He did write ‘You Little Thief’, it’s just (he’s saying) it’s not about Maria McKee. He didn’t explain whether McKee’s ‘A Good Heart’ is about him – but then he’s probably the wrong person to ask about that.

tenchTwitter, eh. It was well gutting that the story isn’t true. At the same time it was well ace to get it from the horse’s mouth, especially from a guy who has informed my whole life as a keyboard player, on a par with Bittan and Federici. I didn’t make it up, by the way, it’s the ‘established version’. I was tempted to reply “but it’s on Wikipedia, it’s MUST be true,” to the actual person who’d know.

Anyway, that only leaves Evan Dando’s ‘It’s About Time’ versus Julianna Hatfield’s ‘For The Birds’, where he’s trying to persuade her to have sex with him. I hope that pairing doesn’t get debunked but if it does, I hope it’s Julianna who tweets in.

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