music + culture + random odd stuff from the mind of a fortysomething
And more excitement ...

All in all, I make this close to £200 I'll end up spending on records I already have (several times over!) in the next two months.

Finally, after all the waiting ... October 5th.
The Comeback

I'm coming back to the Blog. Check in soon for surprises...
The Magic Of Camber Sands
It has not been the mnost cracking Christmas ever due to a bout of 'flu that has made most days a haze and a bit of a struggle. However, yesterday (in an attempt to make something positive out of the post-Boxing Day blues) I suggested to Hitch that we ought to take a drive to Camber Sands to catch the beach in the fading light.
Camber Sands is a magical place to me - not merely is it where we used to spend many drunken weekends at the All Tomorrow's Parties fastival in the local Pontins, but it's one of the reasons we decided to get a holiday cottage in the area and there's something undeniably odd but mesmerising about the landscape there - part faded seaside glamour, part eerie bleakness, part absolutely beautiful. A winning combination.
anyhow, for the three quarters of an hour or so we were there it was probably the highlight of my Christmas period. Yup, enough to get me off my lethargic arse and start 'blogging' again.

Marfa had an amazing time running on the soft wet sand and racing up and down the dunes. It was heart-warming just to see her so happy and energetic.

One of the other highlights of Christmas was the annual viewing of the Charlie Brown Christmas Special, my favourite seasonal movie of all time. I thought this tree-twig thing looked like the tree Charlie Brown picks in that cartoon.

And so sun sets over Camber, and in the distance Pontins awaits the return of ATP later this year with acts such as Fuck Buttons, Hot Chip and The Hold Steady. We'll be there.


I like to think of this as Warhol's Sleep for the dog-loving community.
There's a touch of the Beckett about it too.
When I get a male dog Beckett is high up the list of potential names.
"Nice scarf!"

Next to a certain bunch of evangelical Canada residents, the band/record that has got me the most excited this year has been LCD Soundsystem. Like their breakthrough song Losing My Edge states - I was there. A friend burned me a CD of their really early tracks and I loved them. Stupidly, however, I never bothered to see them live because, as I think most people probably have presumed, it's just going to be some chubby guy with some computers and a backing track.
Jeez was I wrong on that one. (To my eternal shame I can't believe I passed up on them on the small club stage at an ATP three years ago.) LCD live is one of the most astounding, rocking spectacles. By the end of their show at the Astoria in March I was sweaty, deaf and exhausted. Very deaf. It was as loud as Motorhead, and I was way nearer the stage too. By a strange synchronicity, I saw this show the night after the first AF gig at Brixton Academy, and LCD will now be supporting them on their North American tour. Spooky.
anyhow, tonight in a bit of mindless browsing I came across this performance on David Letterman. Excellent.
Splish Splash

Marfa enjoys a nice bath after rolling in the muck.
God, editing is exhausting - hence no entries for a while. What passes for normal service round here will presumably resume at some stage in the next week or two...
For Those About To Rock...

...Hitch salutes you!
Motorhead opened Jarvis Cocker's Meltdown festival at the South Bank on Saturday. It was LOUD. One of the loudest shows I have been to, in fact. But what showmen.
Anyhow, I couldn't resist taking this picture on the tube on the way back.
New York I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down

Another month and little activity on the blog front. Excuses? – a long and exhausting trip to the US on the latest documentary project. Five states in seven days: New York, Massachussetts, North Carolina, Illinois and Maryland. Phew. Then off to Texas and San Francisco ten days after that.
I landed in New York the other week, jet-lagged, and checked into my fairly crappy midtown hotel thinking only of one thing – a refreshing, cold Sam Adams and a grilled chicken sandwich at my favourite old style Manhattan bar, McHale’s on West 46th street. I’ve spent many, many nights propping up the bar in McHale’s and it has a real history for me – among other things, it was a welcoming warm hideout during the blizzards of April 1993, it was the last place I ever saw my friend Sandy before she died suddenly a few weeks later, it was an unofficial crew mess room during a long period of shooting in the late ‘90s, and (without sounding too WarBalls about it) it was my refuge on the night of September 11th 2001, a place I could feel comfortable and kind of ‘at home’ among all the other shocked and bewildered folks trying to take in what had happened that day. If I could be said to have had such a thing as a 'local' in the city, this was it.
But I was shocked to find that McHale’s is no more – another victim of the constant changes (‘improvement’ I think they call it) in Manhattan. Destroyed some time in the last couple of years, and being replaced by a luxury apartment tower. The Mexican bar Monte Tecla, a near neighbour and home of my favourite margaritas in the city, went a few years before that. And as I wandered around the bright shopping precinct that is the new Times Square I also discovered that the Howard Johnsons, a Times Square landmark, has been sacrificed to the developers too.
Now, the food at Howard Johnsons was never anything to shout about, but to me it was a remnant of an old New York City that was part of the place’s magnetic appeal. A reminder of the magic that New York symbolised to me as a kid. Naughty, haughty, bawdy, sporty. 42nd Street to a tee. Strikes me it was one of the last outposts of the old world before Times Square was reimagined as Giulliani Plaza. And I'll miss it.
I’ve been going to New York pretty much constantly for nearly 20 years now, and I’ve grown to know the place like a sort of second home. But every fresh visit brings some kind of shock at how much things change, how the place is becoming ever more prettified and gentrified, how (for example) living in the East Village is beyond most people’s grasp and the young folks who made it what it was only hang on through rent controlled apartments. It’s a feeling that seems to pervade one of the best records I’ve heard all year, LCD Soundsystem’s magnificent Sound of Silver, whose songs seem to capture the ennui of contemporary NY life. “New York I love you, but you’re bringing me down,” James Murphy sings at its close, “like a rat in a cage...”
I’ll drink to that. If they don’t close down all the decent bars first.
More US musings to come in the next few days – promise.

Smell and Quim
Prick Decay
Miasma & The Carousel of Headless Horses
Astral Social Club
Fat Battery
Headless Piss
Slim Thug
Porn Sword Tobacco
Oscillatorial Binnage
Vatican X-Ray Department

(This list is especially dedicated to Kenny Latham, who prompted me to dig for the ridiculous once again)
All Apologies

Spotted in yesterday's edition of Metro newspaper ... apology of the month, surely?
Marvel Comic
... or comic marvel. You decide.

Hitch and I were alerted to this amazing bit of footage during one of the Saint Etienne Turntable Cafe events at London's South Bank Centre. Turntable Cafe is consistently one of the greatest nights out in the capital and updates on when they are happening can usually be found here. Any 'club' that has a jazz band playing a live soundtrack to the Charlie Brown Christmas TV special, Saint Etienne covering Cliff Richard's latest Christmas single live, screens William Klein's incredible film Qui Etes Vous Polly Maggoo? while playing Sheila B. Devotion and Stereolab and interviews the creators of the BBC kids' series Fingerbobs is okay by me and then some.
They Say It's Your Birthday ...

... it's my Birthday too, yeah.
The adorable Boadwee has pointed out that his blog is celebrating its second birthday. It was pure coincidence (synchronicity? fate?) that he and I started our sites on almost exactly the same day without knowing the other had done so.
Of course he actually manages to post a lot more often than me. Still, I'm taking a little time out to celebrate both of our special dates and will no doubt have a drink or two to toast the occasion at tonight's secret Sondre Lerche gig.
Totally Gratuitous Photograph of Wayne Rooney With His Shirt Off
The Mark Of The Beasts
To the Scala last night for the overdue live return of the wonderful Clinic. Four Scousers in silly hats and surgical masks playing thrash garage rock with melodicas. What's not to love about that?

Anyhow, I've blogged about Clinic before (and the continued indifference towards them by most otherwise sensible music lovers and music publications) so instead I'm going to mention their first support act, the apparently hotly-tipped Wild Beasts.
The Mac/Hitch jury is out on the Beasts at the moment - Andy thinking them at best okay, and myself thinking there could be something great there if only the singer didn't do that funny jerking thing with his neck, the bassist didn't wear a vest and have terrible hair, and if an arranged marriage between Talking Heads and the back catalogue of Glasgow's Postcard record label hadn't already resulted in Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.
But there was one song ... one of those songs that has an insistent hook that gets under the skin on even the first hearing and won't go away. And I discovered today that it was their previous single Brave Bulging Bouncing Clairvoyants. Good title.

Good video.
But didn't that pesky Franz Ferdinand get there first on this one?
Keith Boadwee - over to you ...

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Yakkety Yak

One of the curses of gig-going in London is talkers. I've mentioned it before, and I always hope it's going to get better, but if anything it gets worse. It's night on impossible to go to a non-seated show and not have to root around to find a spot where the nearby crowd is as quiet and into watching the band as I am.
I'm not unreasonable but there have been occasions where my evening has been near ruined by having to tell someone to be quiet. This usually elicits a response of befuddlement - as in, "Oh but I'm out with my friends at a socia event and we just had to catch up on our tremendously exciting lives and I didn't think I was doing anything wrong." At a Knife gig late last year the young couple near me were so loud with their constant inane chatter (and the girl's voice so high pitched that most of the dog population of Kilburn probably relieved itself en masse) that I had to ask (quite abruptly) if they could stop it. His response: "Look, just because we're talking doesn't mean we're not enjoying the gig, man."
Anyhow, one of the many great things about the Luminaire is their absolute distaste for these idiots. In the past they've made it clear on their website that the venue is for listening to bands and not ruining other people's evening by yakking, and even their bar staff are trained to be as quiet as possible during performances, but obviously the message still needs to get through. So they've provided a little assistance with some polite notices by the bar and the stage area (above).
Luminaire we salute you.
(Incidentally, the Jazz Cafe has the phrase STFU painted large just above the stage. I'll leave it to readers to work out for themselves what it stands for...)
How (Mani)Low Can You Get?

I'm wondering how Marfa would feel if forced to wear this shocking garment? And moreover - where can I get a "Trust Me: My Owner Is A Kraftwerk Fan" variant?
More Barry hilarity here
Sol LeWitt 1928-2007

I was lying in bed listening to the late night news bulletin on Sunday night (technically Monday morning), when I heard that Sol LeWitt had died. Although like around 95% of contemporary artists his work did tend towards the formulaic and a bit uninspiring in the later years, his pieces of the 60s and 70s were among my favourites.
In the past I sort of 'collected' the Minimalists, a bit like collecting baseball cards. As previously reported on this site, I spent a rather bizarre but unforgettable day with Dan Flavin. An afternoon with the amazingly gentle Carl Andre. And of course I've worshipped at the altar of Donald Judd for years now, though (probably thankfully) never got the chance to meet him. And I once spoke to Michael Heizer on the phone, even though he kept on insisting he wasn't actually Heizer between asking me how I'd got hold of the number. Very strange.
I had the chance to meet LeWitt a few years back. I wanted to interview him for a documentary, but (rather like Andre) he didn't want his image to be seen on the media. He said a sound only interview would be the best idea and invited me out to his studio. In the end, we chose not to go because it was a long way to go and I assumed that we'd end up cutting it from the film. Now I feel bad that I never got to meet him. He certainly hid away - there was only one portrait picture of him on Google Images when I looked today, and it must have been all of at least 40 years old.
There's a fabulous room of four wall drawings on show at the Tate Modern right now - white on black. I hope they keep it there for a while and I can go and pay my respects. And I hope art history is kind to Sol - I for one think he deserves it.
In the dim and distant days when Channel 4 began, there was a series called Minipops in which young kids performed hit songs of the day. This was a hilariously misguided programme that pre-empted, in the words of the great Chris Morris, Paedogeddon - with ridiculously over made-up young girls singing lyrics like "he's not a man, he's a lovin' machine".
Anyhow - excited by the prospect of the impending Devo reunion, I happened across this yesterday. Disney-produced kids singing a song supposedly about masturbation.

The genius of Devo is not dead yet.
(But I do worry what the future has in store for those kids...)
Please Mr. Postman ...

... tell me this isn't a genuine charity letter.
Alas, not - for it is indeed genuine.
Now maybe I'm just a hoary old cynic, but please - attaching a sellotaped miniature bamboo crutch on a charity appeal for landmine relief strikes me as a rather misconceived idea. Surely people who've received a Nobel Peace Prize ought to think better than this.
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