life is beautiful, and yet….

It’s all about words now. I’ve just started a 2 year writing course, and as if that wasn’t enough I’m doing the final writing course on offer at my local adult educational school, and I’ve just got a new job working at a school. Helping kids to read and write, writing my poems, and putting together a book of short stories. That’s what I’ll be doing for the next couple of years, so stay with me. For now there are a few songs to talk about.

I once again had to defend my lov..sorry, admiration, for Norah Jones’ music. “How can you like such shit when you’re into sonic youth and Mark Kozelek?”. I tried talking about how amazing her voice is, how her lyrics are incredible, and just how relaxing the music is but it didn’t get me anywhere. Come on, the guy from Belle and Sebastian asked her to sing on his record! She’s touring the US now, and if you live there or are able to go, please go and tell me what the concerts are like because I’ve never seen her live. You can see the full list of those tour dates here. Meanwhile here’s that Belle and Sebastian/Norah Jones from a few years back

There’s another band out there called Stars, a Canadian band. They’re also not particularly “cool” but they write the coolest little songs. Poppy-love-trash songs about hope in a broken world. Anyway, they made a little film which is fun. You can watch it below.

In case you think it’s all too boring, and you need something to impress the hipsters down at the beat cafe, there’s a band called Algiers who are the music press are calling gospel-political-punk. They make really cool videos too, like this one here.

Last of all I got the new album by ANT. A few years ago when I did proper music journalism, I gave his cd 5/5 and had it down as album of the month. Despite this enthusiasm, for some reason it didn’t go platinum. This new one is lovely too, perfect for cold nights tucked into your blanket drinking hot chocolate. Oh but wait, there’s whiskey in the hot chocolate, because love has gone away and these songs will melt your heart. Please support this guy and buy this, he’s brilliant and we need music like this.

Finally, I need to let you know my German friend Daniel Benjamin and his ace band sea and air are currently touring the UK. Sadly no-where near me, although they are playing in Bury St Edmunds, a little small well off market town where I went to school and I don’t recall a single band ever playing there before. I hope they tore it apart. Catch them if you can on the dates below

Oct 15 UK – BURY ST EDMUNDS, Apex
Oct 16 UK – MANCHESTER, BOTW
Oct 17 UK – OXFORD, Oxjam
Oct 18 UK – YORK, Fibbers
Oct 20 UK – DERBY, Flowerpot
Oct 21 UK – BRISTOL, Louisiana
Oct 22 UK – WARWICK, Copper Rooms
Oct 23 UK – GUILDFORD, Boileroom
Oct 24 UK – CONVENT, Stroud
Oct 25 UK – PORTSMOUTH, Wedgewood Rooms
Oct 27 UK – LONDON, Funsbury Pub

I care about you. More soon xo

EP of the year

We’ve gone into the woods today and I cut down a beautiful Christmas tree, it might not survive until Christmas but it’s only  4 weeks until we fly away for a week from Southend Airport (I don’t get along with big airports much), and only 4 weeks until 2015.

So it’s time for my little musical review of the year. Suffice to say there won’t be any lameness like war on drugs (“I hate that beer commercial shit”) who for some reason seem to be everybody’s number one this year. Yawn. If you prefer something a little more sublime, something that will give you goosebumps and give you a little bit of hope then you’re in the right place! Every week I’ll be choosing my favorite EP, video, single, and album of 2014 and writing a short paragraph about why, and far more importantly, give you a chance to listen (or watch!) and indulge yourself in radical sounds.

So, first up – EP of 2014. This year it actually could be contender for album of the year, if not best EP I’ve heard since Belle and Sebastian “Dog on Wheels”. It’s Sarah Winchester “Northeast Kingdom” which came out this year on Team Love/Mt Home Arts and I think it’s the most played piece of music I’ve bought. Six songs, each one a masterpiece. This doesn’t happen very often, believe me. Sarah use to be in a weather (who, probably not surprisingly, released my favorite album of 2009) and these tender songs just capture the essence of human fragility and the need for emotional warmth and loneliness in a way not that dissimilar to Mark Kozelek. I think there’s some a few cassettes left, if not you can download it, and just let her sweet voice and melodies take you far far away to a place where the herons fly free. More info here.

https://soundcloud.com/mthomearts/sets/sarah-winchester-northeast

next week – video of the year.

hear rad new albums from Julie Ruin and Belle and Sebastian here!

Arrived back in ImageEngland late last night after a month away, and if like me you’ve got the end-of-summer blues here are a couple of things to bring back a little sunshine into your life. First the sensational news JD Salinger has new books comming out after 2015, but if you are looking for more immediate pleasure you can check out the new albums from the always awesome Kathleen Hanna and her band Julie Ruin here via NPR first listen and a new collection of b sides from belle and sebastian over at the Guardian newspaper website. Happy listening.