Thursday, August 31, 2006

I'm feeling dizzy

Tower in a spin, originally uploaded by Southcoasting.

or maybe just bored

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Sub Pop and Rough Trade

: Bless
Heather Browne of
for her
brief history of the Sub Pop singles club
(and loads of mp3 history - click and read!)

Sub Pop were already massively influential before they thought of the singles club and it kicked off in November 1988, but it was still a pretty impressive act that captured a certain zeitgeist. Their first single was Love Buzz by Nirvana, their second Touch Me I'm Sick by Mudhoney. It could only have been cooler if they'd added Dinosaur jr's Freak Scene!

As Heather says: "I remember once on a college-scouting trip to Seattle how I sought out the Sub Pop record store on 2nd Avenue and felt like I was standing in my own personal Mecca."

And then they restart the club in 1988 with singles by the likes of Modest Mouse and the White Stripes.

I guess I got a similar feeling to Heather when I walked into the original Rough Trade shop at 130 Talbot Road, off the Portobello Road market in London, around 1980 - four years after it first opened, a year before the NME's C81 brought the world Scritti Politti 's The Sweetest Girl (thanks to Let's Kiss and Make Up) and promoted Postcard records at just the time most of its bands were imploding. Now of course the Rough Trade record label has had a resurgence and is a major player on the new music scene (and the shops are still great), but way back in 1980 it was just about in its original heyday, cluttered as it was then with post-punk, new wave vinyl and stacks of cheaply printed fanzines from anyone who'd send them in.

That kind of experience is pretty much now only available on-line - and whilst more democratic and open (thank you blogger), it lacks the kind of tangible presence that touching and feeling and smelling the essence of a zeitgeist really deserves. We cannot only live through our eyes.

Anyway. as a celebration of that alternative 1980s world which kept our sanity in those cold dark days of Thatcherism and Reaganism, here's

And thanks 4 the memories...

Friday, August 25, 2006

hey Ukelele!

An update on the ukelele situation.

Yes, I bought one. yes, I can just about tune it. And yes, the three main chords ar easy, and I wrote a nice little tune on it. It's compact and portable, tho' sounds tinny and gets out of tune easily.
But it's easy, and it's fun, and it can travel.

This kid's guide to playing the Uke was useful
as is Ukelele dot com

and you can hear a nice tune from the site's maestro here:

and also (again) the wonderful

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

I'm still smarting from the shock of being
Don't quite know how that happened - must have been a slow weekend.

Anyway - suggests it's about time to stop the silliness and catch up with some of the cool music that folk have been sending me,so next few posts will aim to rid me of one particular guilt trip in that respect.
On the other hand, I may just go down the pub with Phil.

First up is the delightful Grace Potter and the Nocturnals whose new CD 'Nothing But the Water' purveys a slick soulful ride along the southern swamp-rock highway. 22-year old Grace has that kind of gritty soft but sexy rock chick voice that deserves to be heard. Her band are tight and give her a strong base on which to build, and Grace laces the brew with some classic Hammond Organ riffs. The songs are all good, and the CD has been worth repeated plays.

Taj Mahal thinks they're "an amazing band" (they toured with him), as does Bonnie Riatt, which kind of sets them in the right place, musically speaking. The CD has a commercial sound (the opener Toothbursh and My Table is irritatingly memorable), but one that deserves to go far. The songs are the sort that keeps your mind tickin' whilst your feet are tappin'.

The album was recorded a while back and their new live-tested sound is much grittier. Check out this fabulous rockin' live video of the band playing Stop the Bus at red Rocks (below).
Think they've just moved on from their Buffalo Springfield (do we, don't we, wanna be the Beatles ?) phase into their "Everybody Knows This is Nowhere" phase! Think Little Feat or Crazy Horse, fronted by a slightly older-wiser Janis Joplin.

The Blues Rock doesn't come much better.
...and two mp3 tasters from the CD:

Buy it here:

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Pick yer own

Apple orchard signs, originally uploaded by Southcoasting.

We went PYOing the other day at the terrific Roundtsone Farm. Beautiful fruit, beautiful sunshine, and then we chilled at Highdown Gardens afterwards - which is one of the most peaceful and relaxing spots on this part of the planet.

Pick-Your-Own fruit farms are the most fun short of... [fill in the blanks]

You can eat as much as you can carry, fresh strawberries and raspberries, blackberries, apples (here pictured), rhubarb, cabbages, spinach, beetroot, and marrows and pumpkins as big as you've never seen.

Find your own local PYO at PYO Farms and Orchards in the UK

And listen to an inappropriate soundtrack:

Congratulations Mac Davis !

A little less conversation, a little more action - from the 1968 movie 'Live a Little, Love a Little'.

A classic Mac Davis song (I never understood what JXL added to it). Mac is eternally blessed as the writer of In The Ghetto, and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame earlier this month. Congratulations Mac!

It's the 30th Anniversary of Elvis'
death next August, so expect a lot more of this. Thought I'd get in early...

Inspired by
checkthecoolwax who has links to YouTube postings of Burning Love and a nice early 1970s interview piece with the King. Awesome!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Rebekka's photos

Rebekka Guðleifsdóttir is my new hero.

Her photos on flickr are outstanding, and she's now joined the next in a short line of people who have impressed so well on the internet that it looks like they may be able to use it as a launch pad for a real career. She has been written up in various places, including the Observer this week, and there's a nice interview from fellow snapper Christopher Austin's photography 360 blog. She now has a contract from Toyota and interest from various top-flight journals.

Rebekka has a lot going for her. A photography student in her native Iceland, she has only been playing with a camera and photoshop for about two years, but she manages to combine warm, arty and stylish shots of her incredible Icelandic landscapes and light, with a revealing and tender range of self portraits which connect perfectly with the world wide web's blogging confessional nature. Intelligent and strikingly good looking, Rebekka is partnered up and has two young sons but lists herself as a single mother, making herself immediately attractive to the male internet hoards (see the nipplegate furore) and an inspiration to women (her current partner is not the children's father).

She also spent 8 years when young in the USA, so combines the cool icelandic weirdness with western metropolitan chic, again making her easily digestible to the internet art crowd.

But without talent, all would be for nought, and one look at her pictures and it's immediately obvious that this is no ordinary photography undergraduate. The woman has talent a-plenty.

The way she captures the shape of the landscape, and the fantastic light. Her way with objects and people that float through the air, like in a dream. Her self-portraits are stunning, and this is a great photographic portfolio, completely divorced from both the materialistic or glamour (despite her odd professed admiration for David Lachapelle) and also the pretentious and arty.

She also has superbly eclectic taste in music (dubstep, drum'n'bass, hiphop, aphex twin, soul, jazz, led zeppelin, beatles, eighties stuff) and excellent taste in knit-wear!

In simple terms, Rebekka just possesses down-to-earth cool and is the creator of simply beautiful art. Long may that continue.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Cover me in ukeleles

These two covers are excellent, and despite their origins they go beyond the quirky to really add something to the songs. I think I prefer both of these to the originals - although acknowledge that might be a slightly controversial (and temporary) assessment!

* Cheshire Women's Choir - I Predict A Riot (Kaiser Chiefs cover)

* Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain - Smells Like Teen Spirit (live Nirvana cover)

I love the ukelele, having seen a small band perform at D&S's wedding recently, and will probably get one soon as it's a prefectly sized string instrument to take on holiday and help me get over my long-time-no-see-gee-tar-blues. Any recommendations gratefully received.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

The world is a war zone

The whole world is a war zone, and death takes many forms. You can't compare the death of quality journalism or that of the liberal conscience with real life blood and guts but they are casualties of war all the same.

This story is fascinating. Everythng related to the Middle East is clearly politically charged at present, but nonetheless, there is somethng in this story which speaks to modern journalistic practice, standards in political life generally, and the risks to genuine information in a modern electronic world.
The Reuters Photo Scandal
(August 2006)

This article also hits a nerve -
"As a supporter of the peace movement in the 1980s, I could never have imagined that many of the same crowd I hung out with then would today be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with militantly anti-feminist Islamic fundamentalist groups, whose views on women make western patriarchy look like a Greenham peace picnic. "
(15 August 2006)
...article from the Right Wing website Frontpage, not my usual reading matter at all
And one final fascinating urban myth about the speech we might
wish our politicians to make, but they so rarely do.
This is a good story - but it's also a good speech, regardless
of its real origins.
(31 July 2006)

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Fort Rox photos

Fort Rox was a pleasant and rather unusual way to spend a saturday afternoon in Newhaven.

There was rain (but not much) and there was sunshine. Coffee and cake were great, beer and wine outrageously bad and over-priced. Shame the ramparts weren't open, but the Fort gift shop was (bargain WW2 berets only £3; proper tin camouflage helmet £20... soooo tempting!). The mayor attended, with his gold chain.

British Sea Power were good (and loud), but felt a little out of step with eachother, and ended with a big bear costume on-stage and a slightly hopeless attempt at getting some feedback drone (the songs are good enough on their own); the Duke Spirit on the other hand really rocked and looked like they were loving it; and the Research were witty and fun (superior to the Pipettes, ploughing a similar Ronettes furrow with Brian Wilson dropping seeds along the way). Also rans included Jacob's Stories (moving keyboard-led songs with violin), My Latest Novel (solid gaelic rock), Charlottefield (noisy) and local band the Honeycuts.

Some photographs of the day are available here:

My favourite was this one of some beautiful 1940s style glamour girls adding a bit of style and pzazz to the event

And some music from the bands

Sunday, August 06, 2006

New music Arthur, it's a Gas

Never trust a music reviewer! Some things raved about simply aren't worth raving about, and then of course there's some brilliant unsung music out there. Charts are nothing - trust your instincts, trust your ears...

But if your ears need roadmaps, you could do worse than...

75 or less
- reviews of lots of new indie CDs in less than 75 words
- a good quick taste of whether a recent release is complete fluff or a possible classic

- adds up the scores from reviews from all the top music reviews
- accurate reflection of the critics, tho' the resultant placings seem a bit odd to me. Also reviews films, DVDs, books and games

Rock critics dot com
- source for lots of fine articles and interviews from obscure and well-known American rock journalists. Not for reviews, but fascinating nonetheless

Modern Rocklists dot com
- every top 100, best of any year going back the last 25 years or top of the pops in any genre under the sun. No shortage of choice... You find gems like the Triple J Hottest 100 of All-Time (1998) wherein at No.2 sat the Hunters and Collectors "Throw your arms around me"! (No, I don't remember it either but I'm sure it's very good)

And as a final Arthur Lee tribute, here's another classic Love cover,

A bunch of twee Scottish BS detectors

Saturday, August 05, 2006


I really like this,

the first a_softer_world strip -

and this one,

a more recent one -

simple but smart

and not a contradiction

thank you emily_and_joey

Fort Rox

...looking foward to the Fort Rox pseudo-festival at Newhaven Fort next Saturday. Have actually bought my ticket now!

Seeing British Sea Power, Duke Spirit and the Research in this old World War 2 lookout fort on the edge of the sea has got to be great. The sun should be shining, and there couldn't be a better venue for BSP...

More info

and listen to

Bye Bye Arthur Lee, wild thing

A small tribute to the passing of Love's Arthur Lee, a key character from the 1960s west coast music scene who produced some essential music.

and while I'm at it, here's Billy Bragg's great version of Arthur Lee's classic "Seven And Seven is".

...and this is really nice too:

The original writer of the Troggs' mega-hit Wild Thing talks about the song on his radio show, and then plays a cool version with some great fiddle and accompanyment from Carrie Rodriguez. Awesome! (as the kids might say...)

Chip and Carrie are on trainwreck records, and you can listen to more of their podcasts at their Church Of The Train Wreck website.

...and by the way, that great photo of Chip and Carrie is by Todd Wolfson from Austin, Texas