Archive for April 2012
Inspiration from Santigold, Breakfast like a king and World Book Night…
1. It is no exaggeration to say that Santigold’s gig at Heaven on Thursday night utterly inspired me and lifted me to a better place. She just sort of left me thinking I want to be better at everything, all the time, whatever I choose to tackle. A pantomime horse, dancers that I couldn’t take my eyes off, a sweet spirit and singer that connected with her audience. Her album is also released this week and there’s not been a day where I’ve not played it, Disparate Youth and The Riot’s Gone standing out. Exceeded all expectations.
2. Monday night I took part in World Book Night. It was a brilliant experience and I immediately blogged about it once my copies of Let The Right In were handed out to the commuters of North West London. You can read about it here.
3. A very early start this morning was eased by a visit to The Breakfast Club. We’ve patiently queued on many an occasion out in the rain and quite happily. It’s always worth the wait, Mocha’s, perfect poached eggs, pancakes and service always with a huge sunny smile.
4. Adore the tongue in cheek strap line on the poster’s for Blunderbuss. Jack White pitches it as his debut album which makes me smile considering his vast back catalogue and musical projects. This album is perfection, predictably Jack White but that’s why we’re all on the edge of our seats every time he releases something, with whomever is graced by his genius. ♥
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This morning I sat on the Jubilee line and was suddenly overcome with a slight twang of ‘What have I done?’ I had chosen my commute as the place I would give out copies of Let The Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist for World Book Night. Looking around at the people avoiding eye contact, claiming kingdom over armrests and smacking of misery. The thought crossed my mind for a fleeting moment that this was going to be a tough crowd to crack.
Then I remembered that the one common thread that has led me to conversations with commuting strangers has been books. Whether it’s a small knowing smile I’ve shared with the dozens upon dozens of people I’ve seen reading Cloud Atlas over the years. The time someone tapped me on the knee when they spotted I was reading American Gods on the Piccadilly Line and we ended up chatting about Neil Gaiman’s books all the way from Kings Cross to Osterley. Or the time I looked over to the person sat next to me on the Metropolitan Line to see we were both reading Mrs Dalloway and we shared a surprised laugh (what are the chances). I’m yet to witness this with Kindles, book covers are so much more easier to spot. One more reason why print wins for me every time.
It’s been fascinating seeing the range of facial expressions people go through when you approach them, strike up conversation and offer them a free book. Heavy browed suspicion, bemusement, eventually a genuine smile. Someone literally gave me a pat on the back and said thank you for being a volunteer, another lady said I had made her day. A man screamed “Mr Crawley, you have broken my feathers” at me (that’s Kilburn for you) and declined the book. At one point I found myself in competition with someone else offering eternal life (I am pleased to say I think I won that round). Mainly, I was surprised how many people just wanted to chat once they got over the initial scepticism. Even those that declined the book had a natter about what they’re reading, asked how many books I’d shifted.
I’m back home now, with a cup of hot ribena and an empty bag. Ready to pick up my own book for the evening, Angela Carter’s The Magic Toyshop. Thanks for picking me World Book Night. It was a page turning experience. ♥
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A book for a book, roses in Trafalgar Square, a letter and The Band….
1. On Carnaby Street, in Kingly Court, there has popped up a book exchange. It’s essentially a free library where you can drop off a book that you have read and leave with another that you’ve plucked from the shelves. I love this communal idea, where you not only get a new book but you can leave comments and share memories or recommendations. It’s like a huge hippy book club and suits the ethos that Carnaby Street stood for in the sixties. Curated by students from the London College of Fashion. The first book I spotted was one of my favourite books, The People of Providence by Tony Parker. I urge all you bookworms to take part.
2. Album of the week is Mariee Sioux, Gift For The End. Honest, simple, vintage sounding folk music from a lady so young singing songs that are so very old and wise. You can listen on Spotify.
3. Trafalgar Square smelt like an English Rose garden on Saturday. In amongst the fauna and flora I got chatting to a lovely lady from Capital Growth. They organise community food-growing spaces in urban areas. Having been on my boroughs allotment waiting list for two years this is a great way to get involved if you feel like sticking your fingers in some soil. You can see what’s happening in your local area by visiting their website.
4. On the passing of Levon Helm, drummer with The Band, this week my Dad said “another great musician bites the dust”. A day later he was followed by Bert Weedon, the man who taught so many people to play guitar. Really sad week for music to lose such important and inspirational characters. Whilst shuffling around YouTube to find something appropriate to add to this list I came across this documentary with The Band and it’s definitely worth a watch.
5. I am sometimes a better friend the further away you are from me geographically. This is because I love writing letters and making parcels for people. This week I was on the receiving end of a package from dear friend Pea who has been exiled to Australia. It arrived on a day where I needed it most and made me howl with laughter and cry tears of missing her sadness. From a letter the size of a small booklet which included a list of music she has recently found and loved (An Horse, Frankie Rose, Lemonade, Wooden Shjips) to a Kaleidoscope that I haven’t put down (experimenting with photography above). Send someone something, anything. It will make their week. ♥
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We had one place to buy records in little old seaside town Brixham. It was also the only option if you needed a washing machine. Terry R Darts on Fore Street. Once you squeezed past the white goods you could climb up the creaky staircase to see Paul who looked after the music selection, he would order in anything you wanted that he didn’t have in stock.
My first album, Hits 5 would more than likely have been purchased from there. It was on tape and lost to the world of Charity Shops decades ago but last year in Oxfam I found the exact album on vinyl. Oh the sweet smell of nostalgia, karma bringing back what was once rightfully mine but in a different format. That luscious black grooved pancake that has come back in fashion.
This weekend sees the return of Record Store Day where people will get up at seemingly impossible hours and commit to the queues. It’s a fantastic event for the genuine music lovers (if only there were a way of filtering out those that are there for ebay profit, maybe cashiers should challenge those buying to sing 5 songs from the artist they’re purchasing) and I doff my cap to all behind it and the artists who have produced limited releases and remixes for us lovely geeks.
For me, bliss is an afternoon spent lurking in Rough Trade, Asahi in one hand, records in the other. So every time I step through their doors it’s Record Store Day to me. Metronomy gig for the price of the album that I’d of rushed to buy anyway, Jarvis Cocker reading from his book Brother, Mother, Lover just for buying his book? Two reasons to keep going back and willingly offering my custom, not just limiting it to one day, like a musical bank holiday. These special stores that bring a smile to our ears deserve our paper round money all year round.
I put Hits 5 on while I typed this post and decided to add a mixtape. Here’s some of the tracks that made me smile and probably shaped my taste in music and by Jove a lot of them stand up to the test of time. You can play it on Spotify or YouTube. ♥
- The Psychedelic Furs – Heartbreak Beat
- Julian Cope – World Shut Your Mouth
- Prince – Anotherloverholenyohead
- Rod Stewart – Every Beat Of My Heart
- The Pretenders – Don’t Get Me Wrong
- Paul Simon – You Can Call Me Al
- Eurythmics – Thorn In My Side
- Haywoode - Roses
- The Stranglers – Always The Sun
- Cyndi Lauper – True Colours
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I decided to have a week off from my self-imposed mixtape duties this week and handed the reigns over to Twitter. I asked people to message me the first song that pops into their head and the first ten people came out with the below (except it turned into eleven). With the tracks coming from completely different people the choices are truly eclectic, I may experiment more in the future with this format.
There are people I can’t compete with in coolness from their choices, there’s also a track in John Cale that I’d never heard before and Mick Hucknall managed to thrust his ginger hips (?) into my blog for the second time. Could not see that coming!
- Chairmen of the Board – Patches (monkeypicks)
- The Bangles – Walk Like an Egyptian (CurlyKerryLee)
- Spiritualized – I Think I’m In Love (GarethEvans1975)
- John Cale – Pablo Picasso (BobWinckworth)
- Simply Red – Holding Back the Years (Sarah_Woolley)
- The Clash – Stay Free (GoingUndrground)
- Bob Dylan – Quinn the Eskimo (Ryledale)
- Spencer Davis Group - I’m a Man (famouswhendead)
- Janelle Monae – Dance or Die (elllmilll)
- The National – Bloodbuzz Ohio (buzzstas)
- The Beatles – For No One (DanStayte)
An amazing man in a green jumper, Zulu Winter and a pioneer in puppetry….
1. Thanks to the blonde in the bottom corner (a.k.a Jo) I have discovered The Amazings and it’s just such a brilliantly simple idea. They help people who are about to or have already retired pass on their secret skills. From steel pan drumming, foraging to retro up-do’s (which we attended on Tuesday) the “Amazing” passes down a life lesson for a small fee. I learnt the secret to Victory Rolls, how to use Kirby Grips (finally) and we all fell in love with Michael from Toppers of Hackney, owner of a brilliant vintage jumper and a music collection that Shazam wasn’t picking up. Yes, he’s *that* retro.
You can book activities on their website. Do take a peek if you live in London. Props to the team behind it, I am hooked and will definitely return in the near future.
2. I touted Alabama Shakes as THE band to watch in 2012 for Flush The Fashions latest digi issue. Genuine, raw, soulful, vintage. The album is out this week and has made me want to glug Bourbon and buy a rocking chair.
3. This week I have been obsessively watching Jiri Trnka’s puppetry. Most of his movies were aimed at adults, for example adapting Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream or producing shorts warning against drink driving. He was a pioneer in stop motion and animation. Really charming and minutely detailed.
4. Caught the latest single from Zulu Winter this week and, like everything they’ve produced so far, instantly fell in love with it. Counting down the days until their debut album which will be released in May. They had at the cowbells on their first release Let’s Move Back To Front. Can’t recommend them enough. ♥
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During the British Tinnitus Associations awareness week I blogged about my relatively new experience of being a Tinnitus sufferer. I mentioned that help and advice from the two doctors I had seen had been conflicting and vague. Through my own fault, but because of my experience with the doctors, I didn’t push to see a specialist ENT doctor. I felt there was no point, this was something I was stuck with so I had to simply find a way to live with it. That has proved impossible, I have wept tears of frustration, suffered severe lack of sleep, sulked and despaired over Tinnitus.
This morning I met with a brilliant ENT consultant and for the first time in six months I feel the gentle of hum of hope. It’s hard to describe Tinnitus, give sufficient words to something that effectively only happens in your head, but he understood every bumbled answer I gave, even when I described how it shifts from ear to ear depending on what side I’m lying on in bed, like tipping a snow globe.
He explained how sometimes Tinnitus can be a symptom and not the cause, the sole problem. He suspects, after much prodding, poking and tuning fork testing that a dysfunction in my Eustachian Tube is responsible. That idea, a faulty dysfunctional tube, is much more concrete to me than the constant buzz no one can hear.
So now I’ll have to tell people I have a Eustachian tube dysfunction which is causing my Tinnitus. That’s already a lot more information than I’ve been given prior to seeing a specialist and you know what they say about knowledge.
I now have to perform what looks like a faulty yoga pose twice a day while I stick nose drops up my hooter for two weeks. This is the helpful diagram I was given. If this doesn’t help then I’ll go back and we’ll look at other options.
One thing that has astounded me over the past few months is how many people suffer from Tinnitus, and even more worrying is how many people feel that their doctors are not equipped to help. I have blogged about my experience today because I felt duty bound to urge people suffering to insist on ENT appointments, not to be brushed aside and told to “deal with it”. I haven’t blogged because I like typing Eustachian Tube.
Here’s to happy hearing. ♥
This weeks mixtape is delivered by the letter E. Includes dark and brooding tracks from Echo & The Bunnymen and EMA. Pop tart moments from Eternal and En Vogue, you needn’t pretend you’re too hipster to like them. From songs that are close to my heart (Emmy The Great) to songs that are plain silly and for no reason make me smile (Emilie Simon).
- Echo & The Bunnymen – The Killing Moon
- EMA – California
- Echobelly – King Of The Kerb
- Emmy The Great – Iris
- Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros – Up From Below
- Elvis Presley - Guitar Man
- Emiliana Torrini – Jungle Drum
- En Vogue – Don’t Let Go
- Emilie Simon – Flowers
- Eternal – Stay
A holiday camp under tunnels, The Futureheads in a church, David Hockney’s epic collection. London never fails to delight me…
1. The Futureheads at Union Chapel this Wednesday were achingly sublime , faultless and I was completely smitten. My full review for Flush The Fashion can be read here so I shan’t reiterate my point, a few photos from the evening are on my Flickr. I implore you to catch them if you’re a curious and genuine music lover that wants to hear something brand new. Their album Rant is also out this week and has pretty much constantly played along with the album featured below.
2. I feel like I’ve been waiting an age for this album to arrive, from the moment Will Self declared it his most anticipated album of 2012 via a rare Twitter appearance, to the change of release date putting it back. Internet Forever are simply a perfect band to me. Melodies, catchy sing along lyrics, pop, shoegazing, eerie 60′s undertones, indie. They make you feel as if you’re listening to all your favourite genres in one go without being crowded, overly complicated or scenester.
3. One of my very favourite London venues, The Old Vic Tunnels, once again came up top trumps over Easter Weekend with their pop-up Holiday Camp. Brilliant DJ playing the right amount of classic tack and pop to shake your jelly, indoor campfire, badminton. Old memories of summer holidays under the grey, dank, dark tunnels. Although hitting the bouncy castle on a full stomach of gin was not our wisest decision of the night.
4. Sean Penn + Francis McDormand + the music of David Byrne had to only = a film I would love. This Must Be The Place is tragic, heart cracking sad but ultimately weirdly funny and redemptive. Actually found myself making triumphant and jubilant “aaahh” and “yyyeeaaayyy” noises at the screen.
“Dark flowers bloom in the autumnal garden that grows inside of me”
5. Being organised comes in handy when you can smugly walk past a very woeful but determined looking line of people chancing their luck at trying to get into David Hockney. Had I not pre booked I’m not sure I’d have lasted out in the rain. The Yorkshire landscapes made me feel nostalgic for my country upbringing in Devon. Luscious valleys reminiscent of Totnes. His paintings are overwhelming, from charcoal sketches to the colossal connected canvases painted from memory, to the same country tunnel revisited during the seasons. Definitely had an art high yesterday. Final day today just incase my words that don’t do it justice inspire you to run down to the Royal Academy of Arts. ♥
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