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

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single of the year

In those carefree childhood days before everything got crazy, I always use to tape the top 40. I also wrote down every week in my little book the top 10 singles, and all I knew about was pop music. Even now I’m amazed when I meet people who said they “Got into Bob Dylan” from going through their parents record collections. We didn’t have any records. Or tapes. Or cd’s. Actually my dad did have a Queen tape and a Bryan Ferry tape in his car. It was in the late 80’s so this was a long way off from “For Your Pleasure”. Anyway so pop music and singles were my world back then, so even now I can’t entirely shake off my love of a good short pop single.

But strangely, this year, some amazing albums have been released (you’re get to see my no.1 next week), but I’ve really wasn’t sure who to put down as my favourite track of the year.  Some great songs have been on albums, but none were released as singles. I also looked through the Pitchfork’s tracks of the year and found it boring and predictable. So I had to dig a little deeper and I got this gem, released back in February and yes, I did buy the 7 inch, and it sounds strangely 1988-esque.  It’s the guy from Hefner and the girl from Standard Fare. It’s a breezy light song, but I always think singles should be fun.

Here it is

Next Week – Album of the year

Catch up

EP of the year

Video of the year

singles club

During my brmusiceak from the internet for the last few weeks I’ve been listening to all my old records and was so inspired I even bought some new 7 inches. These days I have a Daily Telegraph record player, inherited from my grandfather, and I want to write about three new singles I’ve come across over the last 4 weeks. To hear them click on the song titles.

Johnny Cash “She use to love me a lot” – I picked this up in HMjcashV in Tunrbdige Wells, and it’s from the, err, “new” album of unreleased tracks from the 80’s. I don’t know I always thought if something wasn’t good enough to release 30 years ago why bother now, but this song is crazy addictive, and it ends on the point of bleakness before those waves of hope come crushing through Cash’s gruffy voice.

Darren Haydarrenhaymanman and Emma Kupa Boy, look at what you can’t have now is the perfect antidote to Cash’s song that if I was making a break up mixtape it would follow perfectlly. Hefner were a band I’d listen to a lot back in the early twenty first century, and from time to time I’ve picked up Darren Hayman’s solo releases which have been mixed, but this song oozes self confidence and charm.

The AnchoressWhat Goes Around” – This is really something special, produced by Paul Draper of Mansun, a band that inspired fanatical and obsessive anchoressfans back in their day.. Anyway here Draper plays guitar and supplies some sensational backing voices, but don’t be fooled it’s Catherine Anne Davies who supplies the energy, originality and warmth. This song, out this week, also has the coolest cover I’ve seen for a while. It’s worth getting just for that, surely?

Three great songs. Records are for life not just Record Store Day….

Oh I’ve also been out in Romania working for Open Hands charity. I wrote about the week here if you are interested in the great work the charity does supporting vulnerable children.

During the break I also scribbled my top 10 albums of all time but I’ll post that another time as it’s kind of embarrasing….

 

EP of the year

Over the next 4 weeks I’m going to be a little self-indulgent and post my personal highlights of the year. Today it’s the EP of the year, next weekend the video of the year, then the single of the year and finally the big one – album of the year.

There’s something different. I am determined to avoid the usual things though, and instead celebrate some of the more unknown things and so hopefully sprinkle a little radness to brighten your christmas.

So, in that spirit we’re starting with this short gem download only EP by Ant. He was the drummer of indie pop band hefner back in the 90’s, but now he lives in Sweden and occasionally releases some particularly fine things singing about the simple joys and heartaches of life. This year he put out  an instrumental EP “only pipe dreams in the pipeline  recorded only with acoustic folk instruments, he calls it “the soundtrack to the end of another cold winter”, and it’s really quite delightful and here’s a video from it to enjoy over a hot chocolate and dreams of a Swedish forest life….