Thursday, 31 December 2009

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Who'd have thought...

The Emotions were midgets.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Turkey and Parsnips

Every year Christmas comes and goes but nothing ever changes at my house. Mum bought Dad a DVD box set which was essentially for her, my brother got me a set of penguin shaped comedy key covers whereas he poured the bottle of vodka I bought him in to 4 equal measures and sold it on to his friends (raking in a hefty profit). I did also buy him some socks. Not my greatest gift idea to date. But what we don't often find in gifts, we can sometimes find in family. I realised this Christmas that I have actually been in the presence of a comedy duo year after year; my elderly grandmother and her slightly neurotic sister Beryl, and never before fully appreciated the genius of their never-ending twitterings and mumbles, all uttered without a hint of irony nor a second thought. I thought I would share some of the golden moments from the day. A snapshot of Christmas 2009, from me to you.

Beryl: He's got everything a man should have Carey Grant
Nan: He's alright like. Not my favourite.
Beryl:'re deluded.

Beryl: Mary was, essentially, a you-know-what
Nan: What's that Beryl? A prostitute
Beryl: A prostitute then. To put not too fine a point on it.

Me: Oh I'm tired now that I've eaten
Nan: Hmm (nodding towards the dog basket) you can tell by the dog, he always goes to sleep after he's eaten
Me: Nana he's not in there. That's a teddy bear
Nan: Look, he's just sleeping away over there
Me: Nana, that's a teddy bear
Nan: Oh is it? I haven't got my glasses on.

Beryl: I'll tell you what, i'm not impressed by that Lady Gaga
Nan: Oh that gogo woman. She's horrendous. I thought it was a clown. She wore a big red thing. Fancy wearing that hey. Fancy wearing that.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Currant Obsession.

Ribena has taken over my life. It's even supplanted pomegranate Rubicon as my drink of choice. 

Upon further research I have discovered that it began being fabricated during WWII as a source of vitamin for schoolchildren when oranges where hard to come by, it was distributed for free in schools as a no-brand drink and apparently started the countries lasting taste for all things of a blackcurrant nature flavour. 

I also discovered two things I would like for christmas. Pomegranate Ribena, similar to the strawberry and apple version and available in carton and squash form, and Ribena Spark,  a carbonated version of the blackcurrant original in a can. 

Saturday, 12 December 2009

It's Been A Long Time...

We shouldn't have left you. But now we mean to step to, step to.

Being in the library for the long-haul has made me crave party tunes recently. Seeing Dave Chappelle's Block Party the other week has meant A. I now want to move to America as of immediate effect and B. Lauryn Hill has had a massive ressurgance on our house stereo, I can't believe I ever let her leave.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Happy Halloween.

Enjoy this pumpkin of a song.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Love Letters To You. And You. And You.

Love Letters is a graffiti/mural project by Stephen Powers in Philadelphia U.S.A.  Check the site for more pictures, here are just a couple of my favourites.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Sometimes learning is fun.

Having to write a presentation for a french class has meant I've rediscovered all the french hip-hop I listened to on my numerous trips to France. Groups such as IAM, NTM, MC Solaar and many others fly a high standard over the channel. Enjoy some of these classics.

IAM - Tam-Tam de l'Afrique (Spot the sample)

Finally to end this french moment, one of the best mixes ever, La Haine - Nique La Police. You can stop watching once you see the cow....

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

A Remix to See You Through.

Perfect for trudging on a rainy day or alternately just sitting at home with a brew. Could The XX want me to love them anymore?

Friday, 11 September 2009


Friday, 4 September 2009

Motown Flies Jamaica

Motown + Rocksteady =

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Home Alone On A Saturday Night.

Mariah I love you.

Plus in the videos for Emotions and Heartbreaker the clothes are pretty awesome.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Mysterious Kinds.

I was introduced to The XX about a year and a half ago by a friend of mine and first fell in love with their devastatingly sad cover of the the Womack & Womack classic, "Teardrops" and then I saw they covered Aaliyah's "Hot Like Fire" and I was all their's. Since then I have been keeping a close eye on them and am happy to report that their debut album is out next week. And from the snippets I've heard it won't disappoint from the initial sucker punch of "Teardrops".  Check out the myspace for more songs and videos and tour dates and all the usual stuff myspace generally supplies. New single "Basic Space" is out now.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Shake and Pop

I swear I'm never happier than when listening to R&B and watching sharply dressed good looking men with nice trainers on bounce to the beat effortlessly. I play hard to get with a soul obsession and a low maintenance appearance but there's still a part of me that's only satisfied by cleverly produced beats, a good sample and a bit of autotuning. One day I will dress like a girl in one of those videos, all shiny hair, lip gloss and acrylic nails.

I've had a lot of time for these numbers recently:

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Heaven and Earth.

On sunday I went to see the Richard Long exhibiton at the Tate Britain. Despite the exhibiton being slightly disappointing his photos were utterly beautiful. His work is based around nature and he walks a lot creating sculptures outdoors and then photographing the finished product. The result is often breath-taking.


Bus Beauty.

Coming home on the bus the other day this song came on my headphones on a long forgotten mix. In the dark, driving over waterloo bridge with a true london drizzle it couldn't have sounded better. It made me want to create the perfect travel mix cd which I am now in the process of doing, I will let you know the fruits of labour but for know listen to this and imagine you are on a 168 or perhaps for old times sake the good old 59.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Miss Simone, 1969.

As Woodstock nears it's 40th anniversary, footage has surfaced of Harlem Festival from the very same summer of 1969. Artists performing in this free, six day concert included Stevie Wonder, Sly & The Family Stone, B.B. King, Gladys Knight and, shown below, Nina Simone, who was at the peak of her civil rights activism. The organisers could not sell footage of the festival for almost 40 years, though it's now being edited into a documentary by the film-makers Morgan Neville and Robert Gordon. Watch Simone's performance and you'll wonder why it's taken so long to become commercially available...

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Sublime Frequencies

The Sublime Frequencies project was founded by a collective of explorers in 2003 as a bid to sidestep the 'controlled' presentation of foreign culture, traditions, and spiritualism in today's West, providing alternative perceptions of the great traditions and their hybrids that still remotely exist across the globe.
The label is dedicated to acquiring and exposing obscure sights and sounds of North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia (modern and traditional, urban and rural) via film and video, field recordings, radio and short wave transmissions, international folk and pop music and 'other forms of human and natural expression'. From the 'forbidden gang funk' of Rio de Janero to the 'insect electronica' of South-east Thailand the releases, like scrapbookish travelogues, could be bought for their kitschy artwork alone. However, they are produced in such limited quantities (usually just 1,000 copies) that it's incredibly fortunate they have now been made available for download.
SF claim 'the world is changing so quickly that cultures and ideas from less-developed countries will soon be buried and replaced entirely by the export of western-styled culture' and as such they are presenting some of the greatest, expressive music in the world with only one agenda in mind: that it needs to be heard or seen, respected and recognized.

Crazy In The Coconut

The Avalanches released their debut album 'Since I Left You', a seamless mosaic of over 3 500 samples, almost ten years ago. The only creditable CD bought in my early teens (some of my 'musical memories' have been firmly suppressed...), it is decidedly one of my favourites. There have since been countless times when I have laid back in the sun/on a bus/all over the world, closed my eyes and with the opening "Welcome to paradise" sample, been launched into a blithe, daydreaming kaleidoscope of horses, flutes, discos, fairgrounds, seagulls and static electricity.

Details of a second album have been sparse and shrouded in speculation for years, so you can imagine my anticipation after reading in a recent press release that production is now finished, the samples are being cleared of copyright and that...

"It's so fuckin' party you will die, much more hip-hop than you might expect, and while there is still no accurate estimated time of arrival, we're sure you're gonna love it when it arrives ... It's ended up sounding like the next logical step to "Since I Left You", we just had to go around in a big circle to get back to where we belong. And one day when you least expect it you'll wake up and the sample fairy will have left it under your pillow."

Monday, 6 July 2009

On Repeat...

Etta James - "All I Could Do Was Cry"

Boy Best Know I'm Excited.

I cannot wait for these two gems to hit a cinema screen. After the disappointment of 'Cadillac Records' earlier this year, it's worth watching for Mos Def as Chuck Berry alone but it didn't even touch on the power and the depth of the music or how ground-breaking it actually was as a label, I am hoping that these are better.

'Am I Black Enough For You' - A documentary on soul legend Billy Paul, it touches on his massive musical influence, the sound of Philly Soul and his relationship with his wife Blanche. 

'Soul Power' - Covering the 1974 "african woodstock", a 3 night long concert on at the same time with Muhammed Ali's famous fight with George Foreman. It features performances and music from James Brown, Bill Withers, Miriam Makeba, BB King, Celia Cruz and many more.

Here's hoping...

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Happy Independence Day... the U S of A. Love to John our inside man who is hopefully as I type enjoying some mass celebrations.

Cr-asia-ly Good.

Meet Onra, a parisian producer with a penchant for hip-hop and Vietnamese heritage. The combination of the two has led to his under-acclaimed album, "Chinoiseries", released in 2007 amidst a furor of praise from music bloggers.

Marrying the sounds of vintage chinese pop and traditional vietnamese melodies with Dilla beats may sound like an odd combination but Arnaud "Onra" Bernard has managed to combine the two into a sound that combines the wistfulness and whimsy of delicate flutes with rackety hip hop beats and a splash of soul. By paying homage to his past and heritage Bernard has managed to create the sound of his future. Long may it continue.

Check his myspace but I can't recommend the album highly enough mainly for the second to last track "Hope" which is an epic 2 minute flurry of violins with a killa dilla beat.

ps. apologies for the awful pun in the title.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

From The Southside Of Chicago

Ghetto Life 101 is one of the most acclaimed broadcasts of recent public radio. It's producer's, David Isay, aim was to document life on the southside of Chicago, a particularly poor area. Thus in 1993 he handed recording equipment and mics to two young residents of the southside, LeAlan Jones and Lloyd Newman, aged 13 and 14 years old respectively at the time. The entire 30 minute broadcast is centered round the daily lives of the boys and features some truly riveting interviews with their friends, family and members of their community.

It is an unbelievably heart-breaking piece of broadcasting while never being soppy or pitying or condescending. The two boys handle the whole experience with a tactful innocence that is a delight to listen to and they're pretty funny too. All in all pretty refreshing in comparison to all the loud-mouthed celebrity radio hosts out and about at the moment.

 All the way through there are heart-breaking interviews and comedic moments from their daily lives together then right at the end one of the boys grandma sings the gospel standard, "One Day At A Time". I think that sums up the whole show. One of the most wonderful pieces of radio broadcast I have ever heard.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

This is the only thing on my mind.

As anyone of my friends knows I have a lot of love for over-produced R&B dancefloor fillers performed by a smooth chested playa in over-sized clothes. Now this video not only provides one of the biggest tunes of last year - Usher and Young Jezzy "Love In This Club" but also adds a comedy aspect of puppets singing. Seriously I am minorly obsessed. Check the Young Jezzy rap and the tip back of Ush-bear's head. 

They've done others but this is by far the best. 

Sunday, 31 May 2009

We'll Be There If You Will...

Sundays don't get much better when you have this track blasting and you're throwing shapes like a tribal priest in the rain. Epic.

"Will You Be There" - The Very Best (Esau Mwamwaya & Radioclit)

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Summer Summer Summertime

The sun is shining over here and thus I felt inspired to bring you a selection of sunshine songs that are on repeat across the channel. 

Freddie Scott, apparently called The Gentle Giant Of Soul which is a descriptive moniker, "You Got What I Need".

The Gladiators,  "Soul Rebel", the title pretty much sums up my aim in life.

Bobby Caldwell, "Open Your Eyes", sampled by Common on 'The Light' the original never fails to make me feel better though I do have a real soft spot for the Dwele version.

Gwen McCrae, "Rockin' Chair". She needs no introduction.

And finally one of the most ridiculously happy music videos I have see in a long time. Could they look like they're having any more fun? Plus I defy you not to want to dance to this...

Saturday, 23 May 2009


WELL HELLO and welcome to my newsflash! 

Breaking and Amazing News: Starting on June 9, 2009 a re-edited "Welcome To My Home" will be sold exclusively on brenda

Here's Brenda with the official scoop:

"Eight minutes have been added with never-before-seen outtakes. The film is brought up to 2009, with current fashions. Much of the film holds true today. It was just touted as a "cult classic and must see" by New York magazine, it's a clear master copy, with beautiful saturated color frames."

I wonder if/hope you can pre-order. Incase you haven't seen it (though why wouldn't you have forraged incessantly to find it?), here is a link to the much sought after part two of Welcome To My Home. 

Postcard from New Orleans

Summer's here and that means the time is right for dancing in the streets.

Friday, 22 May 2009


Also I was at a skate festival yesterday and among the many blasts from the pasts I got whilst drinking warm beer sitting on a concrete ramp watching grown-up boys fall off wheeled objects, one of them was hearing the DJ drop this...

When this came out I wanted to be one of those girls so bad, they were cool as.

Cold Game. Warm Heart.

One of life's happy songs. When this arrived in my inbox the other day it almost made my heart explode. Since then it has been on repeat. Thank you Gabriel. 

Turn it on, turn it up, and take 3:49 minutes off everything.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009


I found this on one of my favourite music sites 'soul-sides'. Oliver Wang is a bit of a legend. 

Besides having a killer name they evoke some of the best things about 60's soul and his voice is just beautiful and more than a little Sam Cooke as Mr. Luecking down at SoulSides pointed out. I won't go into too much detail as it would just be their words, but read his post it's better worded than mine would have been anyway.

The debut album is out 26th May. 

Sunday, 17 May 2009


Plus I know this is no longer appropriate as the US elections are long gone but if this doesn't make you smile on a Sunday I don't know what will. I love it when the kids get totally into it at the front. 

Bright Light From A Distant Star.

I haven't been this excited for the release of a new album since last year and Erykah's come-back. It seems that for a year or so there has been a bit of resurgence of intelligent hip-hop and soul, what with "New Amerykah" by the afore-mentioned Miss Badu, "The Renaissance" Q-Tip's long-awaited second studio album and Raphael Saadiq showing everyone how to make a modern motown record with "The Way I See It. My excitement and anticipation for those albums however has been far eclipsed by the news that Dante Terrell Smith aka Mos Def's new album is due to be released on the 9th of June of this year. Since his announcement in November of 2007 that a new album would be being released and Mos himself throwing crumbs of information to crowds at gigs, such as playing new songs produced by Madlib and hinting at collaborations with Kanye, hip-hop fans have been eagerly awaiting a release date and a first single. Finally though we have a new song and video and I can happily say that I think it's him back to his best. A sparse opening relys on the rhythmic power of his voice with a killer looping horn line and a smattering of him singing, the instrumentation behind him then builds up in layers throughout the song ending in a lovely piano and strings section that tip to just the right side of up-beat. It is pretty great and the video is pretty cool too.

Then you've got "Flowers" which is off his myspace. A cross between spoken word and a rap, all acapella. Intelligent hip-hop has returned. Plus the video contains the only thing better than Mos Def, 6 Mos Def's.

9th of June is the date. I'll see you by the record shop counter and I warn you if there's only one left I will hurt you for it.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Musical Memories part 2

Josie’s post struck a chord. I am never able to disentangle songs from their time and place – a song always comes with a memory, and a memory always comes with a song. The moment I hear Lauryn Hill chanting the opening of The Fugees’ ‘Killing Me Softly,’ the accompanying image is as vivid and instant as a slide – sitting on the park railings with my best friend Matilda, racer-back Speedo swimsuits, licking Twisters, and cackling at the lyrics (“You can’t kill someone with a song!” – innocence or common sense?).

This is the only way I can describe music I like; a backdrop scene which might be imaginary or remembered. When it comes to exchanges of musical revelry and analysis of technical mastery, I am totally inarticulate, and unable to wax lyrical. I don’t mind really – keeping it tied up leaves its spell unmeddled, like a secret crush or one of those dreams that is impossible to describe out loud. That moment you first heard it and you left your imagination to it’s own devices is sometimes the best explanation of why it has stayed with you for the long haul.

There is the Bob Dylan whose lyrics journalists pour sweat over, sorting the good from the bad, the bad from the sad, and there is the Bob Dylan of my Dad’s car; like a sort of curmudgeonly distant relative in the back seat, who is sometimes lucid, sometimes incoherent but I’ll always listen.

My favourite Bob Dylan song :

(Just don’t ask me to explain why…)


(I think I need a master class covering the basics if anyone is offering)

Sunday Song

It is still a mystery to me how to embed videos but here is a song for your Sunday, sung by a woeful looking man with a tambourine. Sway along like it's the sixties.

minor error

Don't make the same mistake as I just did.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Friday Night

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Ostrich feathers, anyone?

WELL HELLO and welcome to the world of Brenda Dickson. Lacking inspiration for your summer style? Don't worry, because "in shopping, you'll find your eye will be drawn to the things you like". Teleport into Brenda's closet now and absorb some other essential pearls of wisdom. This is a very dramatic video, full of style ideas and hundreds of quotes. I can't decide if my favourite ensemble is the lace dress (it's a nice look, isn't it?) or the bugle beads (notice the slit?).

I feel a new obsession arising. If you do too, I recommend her blog. The new video, Brenda's Back In Hollywood makes for interesting viewing, and her advice on combatting suicide is enlightening...

"One of my fans has written a suicidal help note!!! That's an urgent matter. I do happen to have some good advice (this advice can be used by all my fans). It will work if you do it, and, you must promise to try. Ready? First stop by your nearest GNC Store, buy a box of vitamins, the kind they sell in packets..."

Monday, 27 April 2009

Quarteto Em Cy

Quarteto Em Cy was a Brazilian girl group formed by four sisters, Cybele, Cylene, Cynara and Cyra in the early 1960s. The group is still together, but one of them has been replaced by someone called Sonya. 

Wicked She Wicked

"Mi favourite game, always bingo"

Gee Whizz

Following my earlier post on love songs, I have since found what I think is one of the best love songs ever written. And when I say love song this time I mean a song about love and being in love, the good side. "There's A Difference" is sung by William Edward John, better known as Little Willie John a baby faced 5ft 4 American soul singer from the 1950's and early 60's. He is best known for the song "I'm Shakin' " though his biggest hit was the song "Fever" which was later made famous by Peggy Lee. Fleetwood Mac also recorded a version of "Need Your Love So Bad".

Signed to King Records at the age of 18 he went on to have a string of succesful songs in the R&B charts over the next 6 years. His recording career was cut short when at the age of 29 he was convicted of manslaughter after being involved in a fatal stabbing after a show in Seattle. He was subsequently sent to Washington State Prison where he sadly died two years later of a heart attack. Due to this short career span he is one of the lesser known soul singers of his time however he inspired some of the best such as Sam Cooke and James Brown, who recorded a tribute album to him, to name but a few.  

"There's A Difference" is my favourite of all his songs I've heard, partly because I think it showcases his voice beautifully, partly because I'm a sucker for a good horn section but mainly because of the lyrics which though short and simple are possibly some of the most romantic ever. Besides anyone who can sing "geewhizz" with such panache is a winner in my book. 

I wanted to insert a video but unfortunately my technical know-how is limited and I can't do that however click here to listen to "There's A Difference". Listen out also for the casual slip in of "honeychild" a lovely term of endearment if ever there was one.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Musical Memories

Everyone remembers the first album they bought themselves, mine was a tape of Michael Jackson's ''Thriller'' that I got on one of my Dad and I's Saturday adventures. Adventures with Dad always meant a little treat at some point bought conspiratorially together, whether it was a slice from Pizza Maletti's or something made of plaster, glitter and sea shells. I remember that thrill the day, aged 8, I chose "Thriller from the box of tapes by the counter of one of the second hand record shops on Berrick St. The start of my musical collection.

To this day the tape still resides in on of the shoe boxes of tapes my hoarding family haven't thrown out. Over christmas I was home and staying in the spare room where the sound system has all but broken except for the tape deck. So it was that I found myself on Christmas Eve wrapping presents to the sounds of 'Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'', 'P.Y.T', 'Beat It' and the rest. The whole box was full of sounds of my childhood, everything from my Dad's BB King and Paul Weller  to my mum's Joan Osbourne and a Lady Sings the Blues tape that was a summer holiday car essential. Listening to the these once such loved songs I was taken aback by how strong the memories triggered by each of them were. Also at how to this day I still know all the words to Simply Red's Fairground due to my Mum's minor obsession at one point, despite the fact that Mick Hucknall is arguably the most repulsive man ever. Rodriguez was summer in France, Van Morrison rainy sundays making dens, The Lion King soundtrack recalling my sister's epic reenactments of the scene where baby Simba is held aloft before all the animals.

These tapes with their cracked plastic cases and little plastic cogs that I now can only wind up with my little finger are tiny glimpses at childhood. This is the same for so many albums, songs or snippets of music. Cat Power's 'The Greatest' reminds me of my halls in first year. Usher 'You Make Me Wanna' the beginning of secondary school, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston and Toni Braxton the start of an ongoing obsession with female vocalists. This the sound of a friday night. 

That's partly what makes music powerful, what it triggers, what it evokes. Yeah, so The Spice Girls weren't exactly lyrical or muscial geniuses but you start singing 'Wannabe' to any girl between the ages of 24 and 20 and they will join in and be able to finish off the line. Music's not just about the best guitar line ever written or a killer vocal, it's also that song that comes on someone else's itunes that you haven't heard in years, an album playing in a shop that reminds you of home, hell it might even be the jazzy tones of a ginger dreadlocked lothario.

Exploding Plastic Inevitable

Continuing along the Andy Warhol theme – the extrovert outsider. For anybody fortunate enough to have visited Tate Liverpool’s Summer of Love exhibition in the summer of 05, you may well remember the recreation of Andy Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable. What can only be described as a hedonistic fantasy discotheque world, Warhol screened a collection of his films alongside live music from The Velvet Underground & Nico (see debut album) and conjured up a psychedelic drug fuelled environment/installation through a heavy marriage of sound and light. This is a mere token exert: Venus in Furs.


Sunday, 19 April 2009

Amazing Grace

Written by Englishman John Newton, Amazing Grace first appeared in print in 1779. First recorded in 1922 by Brunswick Records it has since become most recognised as a classic gospel spiritual. It's been recorded by as wide a range of artists as you could think of, from classic gospel versions to a bagpipe version by the 'Dropkick Murphys' a Boston Irish punk band. In my eyes it's arguably the best gospel song ever though I do waver between it and 'His Eye Is On The Sparrow'. 

Here are some of my favourite recordings:

Everyone knows she literally can barely put a foot wrong in my book and I do recommend her at any occasion but this had to be included. The timing on this version is ridiculously good. 

The queen of gospel some say, that could be debatable but this version is classic and the piano behind her is wonderfully epic and flourishing. Plus her voice is just incredible especially around 3.40 into this video.

This isn't to everyone's taste, he does tend to warble all over the place but I love his voice and if there's organ involved I'm sold.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Guitar Boy

Follow the moves wherever possible and learn some High-Life hops for the mixtapes below.

Sir Victor Uwaifo's CV.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Truly Awesome

This has literally made me the happiest girl alive over the last week, I advise the senegalese rap compilation and the Mali post below it. Possibly the best thing on the internet along with BBC iplayer and The Guardian/Observer. Thank you Joe.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

You Got The Love

Last night I got asked what my favourite love song was. Now generally those kind of questions enrage me beyond belief, how is anyone supposed to pick their "favourite song of all time" or "the best break-up song ever written"? Ridiculous.
However this got me thinking about what classes as a love song? About 70% of my favourite songs are about heartbreak and unrequited love but I have been hard-pressed to find songs about actually being in love. Does the fact that some songs are about the end of love or the destruction of love stop them from being love songs? 
Laura Barton recently wrote an article in the Guardian about "God Only Knows" by The Beach Boys being one of the most "shimmeringly perfect love songs" because as Wilson put it, "it's terrifying that you go into love so blindly but in that blindness you can see that you are who you are because of someone else". What made "God Only Knows" so perfect was that it expressed the doubt and the fear of falling in love without disputing the fact that being in love felt amazing. For me that is what a great love song is, one that shows you the pain and the fear and then tells you that it's all worth while. I can believe in songs like that, that don't deny the element of heartbreak in relationships, because we can't deny that it's not there but that doesn't mean it's not worth it.

Here's a few songs that are definitely worth it.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

I Was Just Sitting Here Thinking...

You can never have enough soul. Recently due to a chance acquaintance I have found myself raking through my soul collection and I have been rediscovering some gems that I'd forgotten all about. I have thus been inspired to share. 

I can only find two songs by her but when one of them has this lazy honey vocal coming in over the upbeat horns and backing singers it's enough.

Just listen to the opening of this video when it's just him and a bit of guitar and a smattering of bass. Though I apologise in advance for his suit.

The "Soul Queen of New Orleans" will always be one of my number ones. I could have picked any number of her songs but this one just seemed appropriate for a rainy day.

His voice just makes me feel like I'm all cocooned and besides I'm a sucker for a bit of a bass line, something that sounds like spangles and a splash of flute.

You can't do a list like this without Etta and though I admit Beyonce pulls it out the bag she'll never touch this. A close contender for my all-time favourite song.

The list could go on but I'll save some for another rainy day...

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Ghetto Gospel

I stumbled across this absolute gem at a lock-in where I work.  Whilst everyone was drinking themselves into a stupor I was taken aback by what seemingly was one of my friends course textbooks but as it turns out, probably one of the most captivating books I ever set my wee blinkers on.

Simply named, 'Ghetto'  the book is divided into sections such as, Prison, Marriage and the most intense Mental Institutions and shows all aspects of ghetto life through photographs and interviews. 

Now I don't know a lot about cameras but the photos in the book are some of the most stark and real that I've ever seen.  It literally feels like your looking into the souls of these people, like they've been taken with some crazy ghost buster type contraption and at times it made me a little uneasy.  

Maybe its the fact that these characters come to life when set against their bleak backgrounds, hospital wards and prison walls are their canvas and what they have created is themselves, their existence, their personality.

All of the photos are accompanied with captions about the subject, questions are posed and the answers emulate the truth of the photographs, sometimes shocking but always thought-provoking, I laughed and at times blubbed my way from cover to cover.

Rafael, a patient in an asylum in Cuba was asked, 
"What are you scared of Rafael?"  
"I'm afraid of the outside." He replied. 
"Because Rafael is there and I don't want to see him."
"But you are Rafael"
"Now you understand what I'm scared of..."

This book in simultaneously intense, heart-warming, thought provoking but above all an EPIC read.  Definitely one for the collection. Its by Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin.

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

I Fly Like Pastry...

Now don't get me wrong I'm as excited for the Spike Jonze directed "Where The Wild Things Are" film as the next man......Where The Wild Things Are

But "In The Night Kitchen"was always my favourite, me and my sister used to fight over which one would get read. She would generally win.

"discarded things"

Monica Canilao. On a completely unrelated venture I stumbled upon this sweetheart and she captured my heart. Her work reminds me of the days when I sat at my sewing machine stitching in to the wee hours, weaving colourful fabrics around wooden structures and throwing globules of paint in to the air – all for the sake of my carefully considered A-level art creations. Visually beautiful, her mixed media pieces are reminiscent of artists’ notebooks with bits and pieces all over the place, ideas and scribbles coming out of every nook and cranny and rainbows and feathers hiding around corners. Not only does she work on paper (her favourite), cardboard, glass, tatty fabrics, all manner of surfaces but she also creates installations which evoke scenes from Alice in Wonderland and old Westerns …only with a lot more wool dotted about the place. Her work reminds me of opening up a dressing-up chest. Playful. Tea-stained.

An illustrator by trade, her inspirations lie in folk tales, antwacky artefacts and other people’s abandoned kitsch junk.

Monday, 30 March 2009

Dum Dum Girls

A librarian in L.A is singing catchy melodies and girl-group harmonies over echoey buzzsaw guitars and fuzzy reverb, capturing the feeling I had when my own summer shifts à la bibliothèque were over - half sullen and moody, half deliriously charged.

Also try in a similar, more home-grown, vein.

Ladies First

Despite having barely a centime to my name I have just ordered this.....

I cannot wait for it to land in my letterbox. Track 14 promises to be a summer dream and I might have to start bribing DJ's to play Tracks 10 and 12. See you on the dancefloor...

There's A Dream That I See

"You Are Free" is the 6th album from the American muscian Chan Marshall aka Cat Power. Released in 2003 on Matador records it is arguably one of her best works to date. While some like the smooth soulfullness of "The Greatest" with it's blues band instrumentals and Marshall's voice at it's smokey best or the clever innovativeness of "The Covers Records" reworkings it is "You Are Free" that I always find myself returning too. 

I came to "You Are Free" relatively late for a self proclaimed fan of Chan Marshalls work. The soul fan in me had been drawn to the lilting trumpets and rich sound of "The Greatest". However over the summer I was lucky enough to get a job where one of the perks was free CD's. So it was that one grey summer's day I found myself on the way home from work on a sweaty london tube with "You Are Free" in my discman (yeah that's right I still use a discman and I love it).

It caught me instantly right then and there, the breathless, tear stained quality of Marshall's voice over the clinking piano chords and the echoing fuzzy guitar lines. There is pure haunting emotion in every single second of the album whether it's the lonely sparseness of "I Don't Blame You" with it's echoing harmonies. Or the pure resigned heartbreak of "Good Woman" which contains some of the saddest lyrics of all time. Or her soaring vocals on "Maybe Not" or the underlying aggression on "He War" with it's percussive guitar. 

I could go through every song on the album and heap praise upon it but I have a feeling that could get pretty boring so I will end urging you to give it a listen or indeed any Cat Power.
Yes she's unpredictable and emotional and ever so slightly mental but it's all part of the charm. 

From Bangladesh with love

A pocket full of love for the beautiful Bibi Russell please.

From lowly LCF fashion student - to designer - to model – to eco princess; she is undoubtedly one of the most inspiring women of our time. Now staging the fight against unfair trade, she resides in her original homeland working tirelessly to sell the array of colourful woven materials made by her local village people within a fair global fashion market. She works under the slogan ‘Fashion for Development and Positive Bangladesh’.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Música da Lagoa

Deep in a São Paulo rainforest, Hermeto Pascoal and O Grupa create a dreamy, chirpy melody with nothing but water, a flute and some bottles. This pulpy albino is one of Brasil's most beloved musicians, and once composed a song every day for a year so that everyone would have one for their birthday.

The Eternal Children

“You live in your creation, your life is your artwork”.

The Eternal Children is a documentary by David Kleijwegt featuring sisters CocoRosie, Antony Hegarty, Devendra Banhart and Vashti Bunyan. It hops about on the thinking clogs of those belonging to the so-called ‘freak-folk’ movement as it explores the inner-workings of these equally weird and wonderful artists.

Self-proclaimed outsiders, CocoRosie make their adventures in music and film, dressing up at every opportunity, pencilling on moustaches and telling tales of fairies who snip away at their flowing locks whilst they sleep. Yet naïve they are not. What transpires is that they belong to a collective who all share the same spiritual understanding of life by enjoying it for what it has to offer; love, light and infinite potentialities to create. What initially appear as the sort of ramblings you may expect to hear from heavily stoned students, The Eternal Children is in fact full of insightful little gems which make you want to reach for your jotter and scribble down their words of wisdom. In their world everything sparkles and they possess the ability to live amongst the ordinary in a quite extra-ordinary fashion. A mixture of interviews and live performances, we are offered a brief peep through the keyhole as we journey along the fantastical world they have chosen to create for themselves. An unmissable watch for any true fan, may you listen to their music with fresh ears.

Highlight - a beautiful rendition of ‘Just another Diamond Day’ by Vashti Bunyan who sits and strums in a breezy field of corn.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Beverly Hillbillies

Once as popular as Palm Springs, the serene waters of the Salton Sea are now fetid and stagnant and are considered one of America's worst ecological disasters. Dotted around the shores are remnants of it's high-rolling heyday, abandoned resort towns where a few hard-core outsiders either hang on to the hope of a revival, or wait to die. The tragicomic documentary, 'Plagues and Pleasures on the Salton Sea', reveals this Californian underworld and it is as warped and compelling as a John Waters film, only for real.
The Imperial Valley is a setting of natural beauty; surrounded by purple mountains and unique rock formations, the sea is so tranquil that it mirrors the smoky desert sunsets flawlessly. But, as the waves calmly lap the shores of the white sandy beaches, they cough up dead fish and birds by the thousands. It was soon discovered that the water was saltier than the ocean and the tycoons abandoned their plans decades ago. Drive down towards Salton City on the west shore and you will be greeted by Donald, a puckered and complacent old nudist. The town itself is a failed (not even faded) 1950s attempt at a resort town, where Riviera chic meets the apocalypse. All that remains are gaunt, unfinished buildings; hollowed art-deco yacht clubs, a sad café, empty swimming pools and a few rusty sun loungers. The current residents are sun-drenched retirees, living amongst the palm trees and ruins in RVs and mobile homes, who spend their days reminiscing about the pleasure days and fishing. Some claim that the fish are poisoned with Botulism (like in Erin Brockovich), while others eat them raw. Most wax lyrical about the town and are adamant that a renaissance is just around the corner. "It's the smell" one woman considers, "it's the smell... that I like, and then the fact that we don't have anything here..."
While those in Salton City continue waiting for their dream, across the sea on the east shore is the dusty little trailer town, Bombay Beach, where people have already found their paradise. In a surreal, scrubby landscape scattered with broken buildings, half-sunken trailers, burnt-out cars and bones, it is the drifters who live here that bring colour to the bleakness. Golf buggies are de rigueur and eccentric OAPS cruise down red dirt roads, ciggy and a Margarita in hand, extolling the high life and pointing out what-used-to-be, the trailers people have committed suicide in and the place where one man died doing a pooh. The town's unofficial mayor, Hunky Daddy, is a hard-drinking Hungarian revolutionary who looks like a bit like an off-duty Elvis impersonator and is a self-proclaimed 'party boy'. Hunky Daddy holds himself up as the living embodiment of the American Dream, but is a jibbering tangle of skewed and lewd American idioms.
The future of the Salton Sea remains uncertain - many bids have been made to save the area, including one from Cher's ex-husband, but most have failed or were not completed and the sea (along with hope) is evaporating. As it dries out, it poses the threat of raising an alkali dust storm which could destroy, perhaps bittersweetly, the nearby areas which have refused to help, including it's old rival Palm Springs.

Jesus, I'm a sinner please come into my heart.

"I love all paint. Old paint, new paint, pretty paint... if I get a pretty colour I like to keep it for the flowers."

Just outside of Slab City, a dried-up and disused army camp in southern California (where a bunch of geriatric gypsies loyally flock every winter), is Salvation Mountain. Rising from the scorched and stark desert like some divine, technicolor mirage is Leonard Knight's eccentric folk-art monument to Jesus Christ. Knight, a sunny old born-again Christian, has dedicated the past twenty years to doddering up and down his Gaudi-esque mountain structure, building it up out of 'real juicy' adobe and decorating it with the paint that people donate to him. He is a classic lone dreamer intent on promoting his vision, yet is self-effacing and reluctant to call himself an artist. Possibly better than his mountain, however, is the truck at the foot of it which someone donated to him and he painted with flowers and birds and verses and converted into his house. Knight has recently had a boat donated to him and is currently working on a Noah's Ark scene.

Leonard and The Mountain - a short documentary (listen out for his little hobo blues song at the end).

Thursday, 26 March 2009

"I paint myself because I am often alone"

Frida Kahlo is the queen of technicolour adornment, and her unflinching gaze tells stories where the line blurs between myth and reality. Feast your eyes on these this Thursday evening.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Weave Me A Word Web

Words. Words. Words.

Even in day to day life I take pleasure in rhyming couplets and alliteration and the power of three. They are what make language and conversation exciting and intricate. They are what captivate your brain with a novelist's turn of phrase, what keep you engrossed in an article on a subject you would have never found fascinating when reading the Sunday Paper, what make "that" song stick in your head for days on end to your delight and your friend's dispair.

Most people don't even notice the effects of the words that constantly surround us and our day to day lives. The imperative, definitive edge of the "No Smoking" signs that signal the stubbing of a cigarette. The sometimes incomprehensible advertising that litters our papers, magazines and websites. The giggles that a favourite journalists words can provoke with a choice morsel even if you're on the bus surrounded by strangers. The comfort of the familiar first lines of a favourite book, it's pages covered in sand and hot chocolate and other such traces of love. The penultimate lines of a song played on loop signaling the end and the need to hear "that" line just one more time. 

When words are well written they are a never ending source of pleasure and even when they're bad they can be a never ending source of amusement. There is a relish to be gained from using a rarely spoken word in a conversation about pure frippery to best friends that can't be gained by just bluntly and dully stating the obvious. There is pleasure to had in wrestling with an idea in your head for days and finally finding the words that express it all on a page. There is delight to be had when rolling a favourite word around your mouth and slowly pronouncing it hearing every syllable like a crisp clap of the hands.

It can be safely said that I am a fan of words and their many shapes and forms. Recently this has been manifesting itself in a love of poetry. I have always found poetry fascinating, the challenge of manipulating our own words so they fit to or fight a lyrical rhythm or rhyme is such an enjoyable tug and tangle with vocabulary that I don't know what I'd do with out it. I can remember being obsessed with Michael Rosen's poems as a little girl particularly one called "Chocolate Cake" which is too long to post on here but still fantastic. And all Roald Dahls weird and wonderful songs. I love that poetry can be such a concise form of expression without losing, and some could even argue gaining, any of it's emotional punch or meaning and then equally be nonesical and purely for the pleasure of hearing certain words together. It can express any emotion in any form, from the rigid iambic pentameter and strict rules of haiku to the freeness of Benjamin Zephaniah's poems that sound like they were written to a reggae beat. 

Poet's are like any other artists, as my gran says "One man's meat is another man's poison" so though I will include a few favourites of mine please don't by any means take this as gospel. 

It's just that for me all these have a hypnotic quality as they weave their words around me while I read them over and over again that leaves me feeling all goldenly hazy like I've spent too long in the sun or have had amaretto in the early afternoon and to be honest I couldn't ask for anything more.

Carol Ann Duffy - If I Was Dead

If I was dead,
and my bones adrift
like dropped oars
in the deep, turning earth;

or drowned,
and my skull
a listening shell
on the dark ocean bed;

if I was dead,
and my heart
soft mulch
for a red, red rose;

or burned,
and my body
a fistful of grit, thrown
in the face of the wind;

if I was dead,
and my eyes,
blind at the roots of flowers,
wept into nothing,

I swear you love,
would raise me
out of my grave,
in my flesh and blood,

like Lazarus;
hungry for this,
and this, and this,
your living kiss.

My favourite extract being:

Searching for my double, looking for
Complete evaporation to the core
though I tried and failed at finding any door
I must have thought there was nothing more
Absurd than that love is just a four-letter word.

And an Emily Dickinson poem sent to me by Poppy

I felt a clearing in my mind
As if my brain had split
I tried to watch -seam by seam-
But could not make it fit.

Al Mar

After many months harbouring an avid but all too distant curiosity for what lies up and down the Catalan coast, I recently went from half-hearted to full-hearted and put my best foot forward. Perhaps that much needed push in the right (or, just any) direction came from the gathering pace of flocks (of people) to the seashores, propelled along by the rising springtime temperatures.

It was either disorganisation, or a stab at small-scale adventure, but last Saturday I didn’t have any one destination in mind, only the names of lots of towns ending in ‘del mar’ swimming provocatively around in my mind. In the end, the train took me to Arenys Del`Mar. It was (as always) the journey that really got me. In spite of the cool indifference of fellow passengers, I was literally dazzled by the rolling strip of sea that filled the windows on the right side of the carriage, a sort of half sun-filled submarine effect. On the left side, sea-front towns paraded on past, brief rows of sun bleached colonial style buildings and fish restaurants.

The beach at Arenys Del Mar was enormous, and hazy from rising dust and falling sunlight, stretching far away from the harbour, which had an industrial 1950s feel to it. We sat on a white wall drinking cans of beer and emptying sand from our shoes, and then went and ate calamares and whitebait.

The following week, the compass pointed south, to a place called Garraf, which I get the impression is often overlooked in pursuit of Sitges. The path from the platform led directly down some steps and onto the beach, cutting straight to the point. It was a small cove of trapped sun, with rocky and englisb-looking cliffs clawing at the edges. From one end to the other was a toy-town avenue of beach huts complete with it’s own street sign. All green and white, but mismatched in width and height, verandas and balconies. In a solitary white square building at the end of the beach, with “HOTEL” painted on it in pink, we sat in red plastic Estrella Damm chairs with coke and crisps, and marvelled at the hearty March swimmers.