18 January 2012
An odd week then. Not quite firing on all cylinders really, thanks to impending lurgy and sad news and anniversaries and it all feeling like too much hard work. Frankly, I can’t be bothered.
And nestled in amongst it all, is the feeling somehow that I might be being had, that there’s a parallel life out there for me that bears little relationship to this one. All I gotta do it is find it.
But not without its highlights – this week, I have been the twittersphere’s voice of Scotland. It’s been like penpals online, finding global citizens to blether with, as well as the usual gallimaufry at home.
And the chicklet has started learning the recorder. So far, he has mastered the note B. By the time he gets all of them I will be suffering from permanent tinnitus.
I do think January should be designated hibernation month really with short days and long, cosy nights for sleeping and eating. It is soo the wrong month for rejuvenation.
Foo Fighters – Home
A A Bondy – Black Rain, Black Rain
Solomon Burke – Cry to Me
Counting Crows – Sullivan Street
Marie Osmond – Paper Roses
Lots of good music around already this year, with Mad Mackerel posting more than his/her/their fair share.
Three wee slices of psychedelic shoegaze, each of them cornier than the last. As for those Cosmic Suckerpunch boys, I’ll have some of what they’re on. Best single of the year so far, simply because it kept me listening all the way to the end to hear what happened next.
Also, liking this from Lower Plenty.
And this from
And finally this from Poltergeist – a new venture for some of Echo’s Bunnymen which is most pleasing to the 80s attuned ear. We’re all listening to it with one man in mind and sending positive thoughtwaves and virtual hugs to Mr Floyd, one of the fishy crew and who graces this here blog with his presence now and again. Music helps, a little.
Of course, if we cancelled January, then we’d lose Celtic Connections. I can’t believe it’s 20 years old, seems like only yesterday.
Though I have to confess to not being overly impressed with the line up this year. Maybe it’s just too easy to take a stellar Scottish folk line up for granted these days. Seen them, and them and even bought their T shirt.
But it’s a great gig and one year, as I promise every year, I will get organised, I will save some money back and I will get me over there for a wild, full on weekend.
Meantime, I’ll make do with going to see Martha Wainwright and possibly something utterly untried and unheard of. Just for the sheer hell of it.
In the meantime, many happy returns CC. And here’s a glass to Colin Hynd, whose brainchild it was, and whom I thought was shabbily treated when the luvvies decided it had outgrown its humble beginnings. Glad to see him being rightfully lauded for his role in it all.
you mean you haven’t had enough yet?
Okay, here you go. I want to read a really good book. The kind of book which keeps me up all night to finish. The kind of novel which stops you in your tracks, makes you miss your bus stop, forces you back to the beginning again just as soon as you’ve finished it.
The kind of book which thrills you inside with its characters, its language, its rhythm. The kind of book which makes you roll phrases over and over on your tongue until your eyes glaze over.
The kind of book I haven’t read recently. So if you know of any? Please do recommend it.
9 November 2012
Life is one big lather at the moment. Or rather, bits of it are. The bit that is called “getting a life” resembles a sliver of worn soap lying forlornly in its own suds, getting ever more grey and dried out. Though… thanks to a well-timed boot up the bahookey, there is still hope.
I have been rather neglecting the old music schtick recently. Not enough hours in the day but its ability to life-affirm and bring joy in the most unexpected ways means it is high on the to do list of “get a life”.
There have been a few gig disasters but that is par for the course. Hopefully to be remedied tomorrow night when I mosey along to meet a twitter pal “in the flesh” (gasp) and hear his band. I remember the Primevals in their hey-day and being the burd who longs never to grow up, here’s hoping they still like to make a noise. Prairie Chain is a stompingly good number which deserves an airing.
I didn’t watch Paul Weller night on BBCFour last week. I used to be a fan but when he walked out on his missus and weans for a younger model, well, I kinda lost interest. As you do when a hero proves to have feet of clay. But I still like to dig out the Jam records and marvel at how fresh they still sound. After all these years.
Saturday’s Kids (cos I used to be one, you know…)
And this is the week in which one of the chicklet’s favourite bands called it a day. I still haven’t told him. Too busy mourning the loss myself… RIP Sons and Daughters.
They were always going to win the Mercury Prize with something as pretentious as a symbol as part of their name and song titles like Tessellate. Alt-J were a good if somewhat safe choice. It’s a great album but I do think the Maccabees was better…
I’m not sure it’s remotely decent to swoon over a boy young enough to be your grandson (theoretically) but music is no respecter of the bounds of decency. Which is why I find myself in thrall to Jake Bugg. He takes a familiar formula, adds remarkably prescient lyrics for one so young and a unique voice. I like. A lot. Trouble Town.
Meanwhile, Mad Mackerel continues to go from strength to strength. I sometimes wonder where I’d get all my kooky, off-kilter and off the beaten track choons from if it didn’t exist. What tickled my ears this week? Monsters with Misdemeanours from Yellow Red Sparks, the video and song Summer Smoke from Cemetries, and a wee slice of sunkissed psychedelia from Dumbo Gets Mad. No links, go explore…
And just in case you’ve been in a dungeon, EELS is back. With a new album due soon, he’s released a streaming track to whet our whistle. Dark, grungy, full of beats, switches and batty lyrics. All that we’ve come to adore, in fact. Peach Blossom
Watching the Imagine documentary on Ian Rankin seemed a bit like peeking through the net curtains on the twitter neighbour opposite. Ostensibly, it was about his writing process and how he put together his new novel – REBUS IS BACK! and fascinating it was too. In fact, I was in awe but also somewhat relieved to discover that I am not the only person on the planet – or at least, inhabiting one with a vague resemblance to his – who starts off writing in one direction and finishes up in a completely different one. Recent blogposts have been rather thus, and in truth, it has been troubling me. No longer. If it’s good enough for Mr Rankin, it’s good enough for little ol’ me.
And having put the new novel top of the Santa list, I will be intrigued to find out if Malcolm Fox, his new-ish detective, stayed in through the final cut. The plot line he described sounded exactly what I reckon Mr Fox needed to give him some heft but apparently, the editor – who isn’t a woman I’d pick a fight with either – disagreed. Can’t wait.
There’s nothing like a big birthday milestone to generate a little reflection, particularly on how we got here quite this fast. The Big Yin is 21 on Tuesday and I am trying to get my head around it all. There will be a birthday post, much to his eternal embarrassment. Meanwhile, I am going to party this weekend like I’m the one who’s 21. So there.
26th October 2012
It’s been a tumultuous week. But perhaps the saddest event was the untimely death of Michael Marra. I’ve tried three times now to express on this here blog page how I feel about his music and what I think his body of work means to our cultural and musical heritage. But I can’t. And frankly, his talent speaks for itself. So, having gathered a few favourite songs from pals on Twitter, here is my tribute. RIP Michael Marra.
The original is always the best – Mother Glasgow. This one is great for the introduction talking about strong Dundonian wimmin alone – If Dundee was Africa. And there’s this, Letter from Perth *check out the smell of the blossoms and the broom*
Of course, Michael Marra wasn’t always a solo artist. He was a member of Skeets Boliver and this – Shithouse Door – is just brilliant. Note the gentrification for Youtube.
And then, there’s his recent collaboration with his bairns in the Hazy Janes. This one’s about a hooligan in an art gallery, apparently. Ceci N’est Pas Une Pipe
By a smidgeon, I think I prefer this one, Underwood Lane.
So two standouts to finish – Chain up the Swings
and All will be Well which has the most wonderful lyrics and speaks to my very soul.
And with that, I’m away for a wee greet. Cos it’s that kind of Friday night.
21st September 2012
Or my birthday. So this is the official birthday flutter, made up of choons for those who share my birthday and choons you’ve shared with me.
First up, for those with whom I occasionally grudgingly, share a birthday.
For Theo – Jumpin Jack Flash
For Rowan – I don’t want to grow up
For Sandra – There is a light that never goes out
And then the delights you have offered up to the birthday flutter?
Fittingly, for today is also International Day for Peace, Bobby Womack – Across 110th Street
Dee-Lite Groove is in the Heart
Bob Marley and the Wailers – Get Up Stand Up
Biffy Clyro – Mountains (in my favourite acoustic version)
MUD – the Cat Crept In
the Avett Brothers – Slight Figure of Speech
Queen of Japan – I was made for Loving You (which is awesome)
LCD Soundsystem – Daft Punk is playing at my house (and it usually is)
System of a Down – Chop Suey! (a new one on me, though not sure it’s an experience I’ll repeat…)
Gwen McCrae All this Love that I’m Giving
Gigi d’Agostino I’ll fly with you
Katrina and the Waves Walking on Sunshine
and the inevitable, but no less welcome – Stevie Wonder Happy Birthday
And my gift from me to all of you?
A couple of oldies –
Roxy Music Let’s Stick Together
Spencer Davis Group Keep on Running
the Cult – She Sells Sanctuary (the song to which the Student Union Friday night bop invariably went wild)
and a couple of contemporary dance-y choons –
Purityring – Fineshrine
Corin Tucker Band – Neskowin’
And a real bit of fun from Aimee Mann – Labrador
And with that, I’m off to snuggle up with a curry, beer, movie, chocolate and the chicklet. Happy Birthday to me!
24th August 2012
Darn. I nearly had this blogging lark back on track after an extended summer break (reasons – couldn’t be arsed, lots of other stuff taking up lots of time and nothing to blog much about). I had meant to post the Flutter – the old formula – last night. And got so into the finding of music, that it got too late. So, as usual, better late than never, for anyone whose never visited this Friday thang before: it has nothing to do with gambling tips. There are a few old choons that occasionally sum up my week or simply because I rediscovered them or someone else reminded me of them. There are a few new tracks pricking my ears. There’s a few borrowed bon mots – or not so bon mots. And something blue. Which is not ever usually rude.
And having said all that, most of these golden oldies came as recommendations. Liking ’em all, including the ones I’d forgotten I liked and used to not like.
Terry Reid – Hand of Dimes
the Stone Roses – Sally Cinnamon
Bob Schneider – 40 Dogs (like Romeo and Juliet)
Collar Up – A Jam Jar full of Wasps
the Redskins – Lean on me
Lesley Gore – You Don’t Own Me (fabulous rare live clip – play it and sing it loud and proud!)
Which is probably more oldies than I intended to post. So what’s new? Well, a lot that is rather underwhelming. It’s all okay but I can’t get awfully worked up about it. A new album from Yeasayer? Yep ok. An electro indie rock supergroup called Divine Fits. Nah, no ta. Ombre? My tolerance for dream pop and ethereal chanteuses is wearing thin.
This, though, from Echo Lakes I like. Even the Blind. Even though it probably qualifies as dream pop…
And as usual, just as I am flailing in despair at finding something new and intriguing, the ever reliable Mad Mackerel comes up trumps. There is so much new good stuff available there, not for the first time, I wonder why I bother going elsewhere.
One who passed me by – despite MM’s exhortations of brilliance – was Daughn Gibson. At last, I’m hooked. It’s intriguingly constructed, multi-layered and not a note wasted. Oh, and he’s got a voice that makes me positively weak at the knees. In the Beginning – a very good place to start.
Next, the perfect choon for a wee shimmy round the sofa. They don’t do much fancy, but what Grass House do is perfectly formed. And it has that slightly weird tinge that goes down well in this eyrie. The Boredom Rose.
Elsewhere, there’s this from Linden. If you’re looking to recapture that blissed out summer holiday mood, this will do it nicely. Best served with a Scottish sunset and a wee malt. Brown Bird Singing
Finally, to prove I have nothing against kooky chanteuses, this – Small – from Kandle. I just like mine with sass.
Gosh, there have been a lot of words and insults thrown around this week, many of them directed at women. So much noise, and much of it painful to hear. Then, there was former Prime Minister Gordon Brown deigning to honour the constitutional debate with his heavyweight presence. Making the same speech twice in a week.
And then there’s the Ecuadorian stand off involving Mr Assange. With protagonists from either side mostly flinging theory and legal counterclaim at each other from different sides of the ether. Battles have raged on twitter, blogs and comment threads. Ow.
So, in search of something soothing, who else to turn to but the poets? Doesn’t mean they’re any less challenging, but most prefer to whisper and lilt. And generally make words a whole lot more meaningful in the process.
Who better to lead us in Praise of a Man than Norman MacCaig?
And this snippet from Loch by my favourite Scottish female poet, Liz Niven.
Nae man an island they say,
bit whit o wumman like loch?
Settlt o her boondaries,
kennin her depths.
I’d nearly given up on the garden this year. The back garden in particular now resembles an unruly wilderness, the grass at least knee high.
But the front is holding its own, the blue garden – with rogue orange and yellow bits – is holding its own and doing our bit to save the bees from starvation. Twelve I counted tonight, gorging themselves on veronica, lavender, alliums and the funny hairy short spiky lilac plant that none of us knows.
The plans for spectacular displays and for re-organising and shifting and moving and repairing and painting? Rained aff. But hankfully, there will always be a purple patch, whatever the weather.
20th July 2012
Four things that caught my beady eye this week
Sonny & the Sunsets – Pretend you Love Me
The incredibly youthful-looking John Byrne on the train on Monday, looking dapper with a nifty green scarf thrown nonchalantly over his shoulder
Denise Mina winning best crime novel of the year – way to go, girl!
Six things that pricked my ears
JBM – Crooked Branches
Jim White – Chase the Dark Away
The Flamingos – I only have Eyes for you
Buddy Holly – Love is Strange
Candi Staton – In the Ghetto
Stooshe – Black Heart
Three things which ruffled my feathers
Buses – or rather the lack thereof at key times of the day
the Scotch Whisky Association – for wasting precious public money that could have been spent on services instead
and the Scottish Government – for marching us all down the aisle on equal marriage, then ditching us at the altar
and two things which assaulted all my senses
The new album from Purity Ring – Shrines even though it isn’t actually out yet. What’s not to like about a band which reference salt n vinegar in a choon?
And this magnificent feat from Scotland’s current greatest living sports star. Until Paul Lawrie wins the Open again, of course. I cried, I cheered and then I cried some more. David Millar, you rock. Just a shame the Scottish media largely ignored it.
Top five albums of the year (so far)
So you wait. And you wait. And then you wait some more.
“Sure, I can do my favourite albums of the year so far for the 5 July. No problem. Delighted to.”
Instead, my partner in this particular crime goes globe-trotting and FORGETS.
So, here I am toute seule, somewhat tardy, but these babies are worth the wait. And if the criminal ever returns to these shores, then I’ll post those too. Before, ahem, September preferably.
The more I do these lists – oh, and how I love my lists – the more I realise the agonising is pointless. Does it matter that people might scoff at my choices, or that the older I get, the safer and samer some of these seem? No, cos you like what you likes. And this list is based on the albums firmly on repeat, whose ditties enter unbidden into my head, whose choons I find myself humming. Out loud in public places. Most embarrassing.
And if you haven’t given them a spin yet, now’s your chance.
Delta Spirit – Delta Spirit
Normally, bands release an eponymously titled album as their first. This is their third album: go figure. Actually, it doesn’t take a lot of figuring out. Someone somewhere has clearly telt the boys they could be stars. If only, they cleaned it all up a bit, made it all a bit more commercial and re-introduced themselves to a wider market.
According to the burdz’ law, I should now be aff them. But still they make me swoon. A wee bit poppier, rockier, sharper and even the odd tinge of electronica. Gone are some of the rootsier sounds, but ah, the drums remain. And the thrumming guitar hooks, the voice and the warm fuzzy feelings they generate all over.
Django Django – Django Django
I will get round to including an album with something other than a band title in it, honest.
These boys have been whipping up a storm (geddit?) and deservedly so. Can’t wait to see them live – again – later this year. And just as the burdz mammy can walk tall, claiming to have seen and loved U2 before anyone else had barely heard of them, so it will come to pass, that when these boys are rich and famous, I shall remind everyone who spotted them first.
Metric – Synthetica
The chicklet has his own MP3 player these days. Full of the kind of keech that appeals to the pre-pubescent market – though some artists might be surprised to find themselves appealing to this demographic.
In a vain attempt to rescue his ears, I mix in a little of my own choices too. And some of the stuff he used to like before being influenced by playground trends – Joe M Pug, Fanfarlo, Sons and Daughters and so on.
This has found favour. Better still, it has replaced the XX as the bedtime music of choice. At last. Doesn’t hurt that I like it too and am happy to listen to it frequently and often.
Dexys – One Day I’m Going to Soar
I’m reckoning that this album is going down well with the forty something demographic. Heck, even the title is enough to pique our interest.
And given that we rule the world, in terms of music prizes at least, expect to see this featuring highly in award nominations and best of the year lists. Deservedly so.
If nothing else, the return of Dexys after a ridiculously long hiatus is triumphant. This album is the surprise of the year. It is funny, warm, melodic, inventive, familiar, discomfiting, joyous and intimate. And every track speaks from the soul.
It’s ok John Joe is an epitaph for our times and one of two songs this year to reduce me to tears every single time I listen to it. Always a good thing in my book.
the Walkmen – Heaven
For years, some bands bump along just under the high watermark. They’re prolific, if a tad inconsistent. Their stuff is good, it scores decent reviews, but.. well there’s always a but. A handful of decent choons but…. well, no songs that make you cry nor your spine tingle.
And then for some, it just clicks. Everything they’ve been striving for falls into place. If they’re really lucky, they get their very own Higgs-Boson moment.
This is the Walkmen’s. It is utterly sublime and I play this album every week, at least once a week. Can’t see that changing any time soon.
15 June 2012
No messing today. Straight to the choons with only a weeny introduction.
The great thing about twitter is that it brings like-minded people together. There are folk who like dogs, folk who like politics, taking photies, who talk nothing but football (some obsessively about the demise of Rangers) and some who even reckon they like rugby. And then there are folk who like music.
I love clicking on choons that others have linked to and discovering previously hidden delights.
So I’m eternally grateful to the Twitter pal who – thirty odd years late – has introduced me to Sonic’s Rendesvouz Band and reminded me just how great the Real Kids were. The latter group I came to after becoming a bit of a Jam freak in my early teens and was determined to seek out similar (vaguely). The Real Kids were better and until now, I had more or less forgotten they existed.
My Baby’s Book is a great introduction.
And this, as my Twitter pal opined, has to be a contender for the best riff intro ever. Sweet Little Sixteen.
The burdz pops would definitely like this raw mix of rock n roll but as it is officially Father’s Day on Sunday, a few choons especially for him.
John Lennon – Working Class Hero
the Maccabees – Went Away
First up, some tracks I salted away to share with you in April and promptly forgot about.
Windmills – Great Divide; from an old faithful, albeit sporting a somewhat different sound these days but with enough of the old schticks to keep me liking ’em, Dig from Fanfarlo; and this from Lotus Plaza – Out of Touch
And from the consistently awesome Mad Mackerel, a couple of their choice cuts in Video of the Day.
Proving you can’t go wrong with a bit of shoegaze, Tropical Popsicle the Tethers
And proving we can all dig interesting electronica – Hey Sholay Burning
Two more – this from the Jezabels, Easy to Love.
And from their forthcoming album, due to be launched at the beginning of July in a Song, by Toad gig at the Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh, this from Meursault. I’ve loved their last two albums and I’m all of aflutter awaiting this one.
It looks like being just as good, if not better, if Flittin’ is anything to go by. Wonderful.
And finally, an exclusive (maybe)
You heard it here first. Maybe.
You can all thank me when it’s released in late summer.
Friday 1 June 2012
Tales from the eyrie…
It’s been a week of BIG news in the eyrie this week. The big chicklet announced he’s leaving to set up a nest of his own, prompting an outward display of delight for him deciding to fledge and an inner sense of wrench and loss. He’s only moving across town and even though he’s nearly three years older than when I flew the coop, it still feels like far too young. Still, it will be nice to get some towels back and to find biscuits in the tin occasionally.
Also, he was voted Employee of the month at his workplace, by his colleagues and bosses, only three months after starting in post. The boy knows how to make his mammy proud. Vewy, vewy pwoud to quote a well-known football manager.
In other news, me and the wee chicklet cleaned out the fishtank – THIS fishtank. And I dropped it. Thankfully, with only a fifth of water still in and two fish. The fish survived, the tank did not. Much mess, water, glass and tears. Just an average Thursday night then.
School sports day was called off, giving us a fortnight to train the wee chicklet within an inch of his life. Us competitive? Nah. He’s just sooo good and watching him try his hand at any sport and excel at it immediately is always a revelation.
Finally, I bought myself a pair of jeans and two T shirts (when I was supposed to be looking for a wedding outfit). And managed not to feel guilty about buying the chicklets nowt for about five minutes.
Siouxsie and the Banshees – Spellbound
The Duke Spirit – Don’t Wait
Bronski Beat – Smalltown Boy
Graffiti6 – Calm the Storm
(This last one found on one of my favourite Tumblr sites, the B-side of things)
Sometimes, I think I’m right back in my rootsy, tootsy musical hame. Like with this from the Lumineers – Flowers in your Hair. Or this from Wintersleep, In Came the Flood (rather appropriate given Thursday night’s mishap)
The drum thing ain’t getting better anytime soon, not when there’s great new sounds like Lonely Fortunes from Ha Ha Tonka.
And then I’m clearly on a voyage of rediscovery to my 80s past. Like with this from Eternal Summers – Millions. Or even this great new Scottish Band, French Wives whose debut album is getting great reviews. They’ve taken an old formula and given it a fresh twist, as with this choon Younger.
Occasionally, I feel so old I’ve been right round the musical globe and back again. Two Wounded Birds, in particular, have got the retro vibe down pat. Try My Lonesome for the full effect. Or there’s Roll Baby Roll from the fabulously monikered Duquette Johnston and the Rebel Kings – everything you could possibly want from a choon and all in just over two minutes.
Roll up all of my favourite things – reverb, jingly jangly guitars, drums, riffs and shoegaze – and what do you get? England from Black Manila.
And just when I think I’m a stylus stuck in the groove of a 33rpm when 45s are all the rage…. this. Henrietta by Yeasayer.
(If you’ve ever wondered where I find most of this stuff, take a bow Mad Mackerel. The best music blog around.)
…I want an earth
whose map I can draw
in accordance with the topography of my face,
cleaving its rivers and seas
by way of my tears….
18 May 2012
This Friday, we’re celebrating. The end of a long but successful week at work. The start of a long weekend: it might be wet but I have wellies. The Salt n Sauce Cup Final between Hearts and Hibs. And while I might wish that Killie was there, well, we had our moment in the sun a few months ago….
So, this Flutter is for tomorrow’s Final.
First up, if you’ve missed it – and how come? – the quite brilliant Go East video made by staff at the Scotsman and Edinburgh Evening News. Funny and fun. More like this please!
And a few choon requests.
And for the lovely Lily Greenan, here’s Booker T Green Onions
Suggested by Jamie Glackin – who is organising a fundraising dinner for the David Cairns Foundation, by the by – Out of the Game by Rufus Wainwright. Top class. But he also suggested this…. Brown Sauce I wanna be a winner. Entirely appropriate….
A wonderful request from Cllr Ruth McGuire (Irvine West) – the Specials, a Message to you Rudy. Ha!.
And for Bassrockbella (go find her on Twitter) whose house doesn’t really do football apparently…. the Ketchup Song.
A couple for both sides of the Edinburgh divide…. Al Green How can you mend a broken heart? Green Day Restless Heart Syndrome … and for the unlucky vanquished tomorrow night, Talk Talk the Party’s Over. In fact, only Talk Talk could also come up with a great song for the victors: Strike up the band!
To everyone heading to Hampden or clustering around TVs at home and in the pub? Enjoy. I’m looking forward to it and hope everyone has a great day. Shame, there can only be one winner. Actually scratch that… if we get a good competitive game, an exuberant crowd in full voice, no trouble, then Scottish football wins.
One other huge cause for celebration this week. Mum? Welcome home!
the Beatles – And I love her
And mum’s home. :)
11 May 2012
May already and rain practically every day. And birthdays. Lots of them.
For some reason I collect Taureans in my life the way some folk collect antique bottle stoppers. Fortunately for me, most of them are of the valued, decorous variety, the kind I’m more than happy to display on my shelves. Though some of them are nearly reaching antique status…
U2 – Gloria
Buddy Holly – Brown eyed handsome man
The Rolling Stones – Out of Time
The Cure – Close to Me
The Crystals – All Grown Up
I bored you all last time with my lurve for the Walkmen’s choon, Heartbreaker. Well, I’m about to bore you more now. Their album isn’t due out until early June in the UK but they’ve released another track from it. And boy is it hitting the spot. I don’t expect you to get it, I’m not sure I know why I do. But it’s the best thing I’ve heard all year.
the Walkmen – We Can’t be Beat
The Proclaimers have a new album out. And for sheer joyous, life affirming, melodic genius they cannae be beat. The harmonies get richer as they age too. Spinning Around in the Air is the recently-released single.
Hanging boldly on their coat-tails, a brand new (in both senses) wee band, the Travels. They may well go far…. Bad Day
I have a wee soft spot for the Brian Jonestown Massacre. No one ever said I was a straight forward burd. They make music that instantly sounds familiar, that is driven and earnest, while oddly laid back all at the same time. They want you to think they don’t care but it would pain them if you didn’t. The new album is released now-ish and this track, Devil May Care, kinda sums them up perfectly.
And now for something completely different. I’m liking the new album, Bloom, by Beach House, a lot. Pure sweetness, exemplified by On the Sea.
Very apt this week. An overdue thank you to one Tom Rafferty (here in all his pomp and musical majesty) for kindness above and beyond the requisites for a Twitter acquaintanceship. The world is a better place for folk like him.
His gift? Well, if he could see the reaction, the light in my mum’s eyes, at having it read to her, he’d know. Priceless.
“When enough years had gone by to enable us to look back on them, we sometimes discussed the events leading to his accident. I maintain that the Ewells started it all, but Jem, who was four years my senior, said it started long before that. He said it began the summer Dill came to us, when Dill first gave us the idea of making Boo Radley come out.
I said if he wanted to take a broad view of the thing, it really began with Andrew Jackson. If General Jackson hadn’t run the Creeks up the creek, Simon Finch would never have paddled up the Alabama, and where would we be if he hadn’t? We were far too old to settle an argument with a fist-fight, so we consulted Atticus. Our father said we were both right.”
The garden is a coup. Grass overgrown, early herbaceous growth burnt by a late frost, some promising shoots of green, May bloomers struggling to produce more than a few pitiful buds.
A wiser gardener than me reckons the poor plants are confused. Heatwave in March, drookit in April, froze in May.
They’re not the only ones.
27 April 2012
There is so much good new music around right now, that this is a round-up post. Ten tracks I’ve discovered and love. Six music blogs/sites worth visiting. Happy Friday!
Richard Hawley – Leave your body behind you. Dreamy.
Mirel Wagner – No Death. Shivery.
Chromatics – Kill for Love. Swoonsome.
Lightships – Sweetness in her Spark. Soothsome.
The Maccabees – Pelican “Jerky”.
The Owsley Brothers – My Man Ed. Noisy.
Paul Buchanan – In Mid Air. Ephemeral.
Gringo Star – You want it (Count yer Lucky Stars) Rootsy.
Olafur Arnalds – Everything must Change. Astonishing.
And this. It’s been on a constant loop since I discovered it. Definitely a contender for my choon of the year. And it’s only April.
The Walkmen – Heartbreaker. Superlatives fail me.
And the music blogs?
20 April 2012
In praise of World Record Store Day
Tomorrow (Saturday) is World Record Store Day or just plain Record Store Day (#rsd12) which gives all our favourite independent record shops the chance to shine, attract new customers and hopefully, drum up some much needed and welcome trade.
I hope to get along to at least one in the afternoon but that depends rather on the co-operation of the chicklet, who will no doubt have other plans. Still, I am inspired by the tale of purses and wee boys with surprisingly eclectic musical taste on Voxbox Music’s blog.
And if you are in need of some inspiration on where to go to find some special releases, live music, rare second hand goodies, here are five record shop choices in Edinburgh, catering for all tastes. If you don’t live in Edinburgh, check out the official Record Store Day website to find a shop near you.
1. If you’re an electronica fan, and into trance dance and all the other variations on a theme, check out Underground Solu’shn on Cockburn Street. As well as music, they do a mean line in decks and other essential equipment (am I managing to sound like I know what I’m talking about?!) Details for RSD12 are scant but the shop is open from 10am to 6pm.
2. World and folk fans should make their way to Coda Music at the top of the Mound. It has everything a folkie and follower of Scottish music could hope for – and if it doesn’t it can find it for you. Again, there are few details on the website, bar an announcement that they are participating in RSD12 and are open from 9am, hosting live performances. Definitely worth checking out to see if some of Scotland’s folkeratti are gracing us with their presence.
3. For those who like their music on the classical side, there’s McAlister Matheson Music on Grindlay Street which is Scotland’s biggest independent classical musical specialist. Other than participating in RSD12, there’s no clue as to what might be on offer, other than a cornucopia of new classical releases, best sellers (Wagner this month it would seem) and great deals. The shop has already declared a celebration of Kathleen Ferrier, the centenary of whose birth is this month, so there might be a wee gem there to be had.
4. A full day of great music and rare finds is on promise at the above-mentioned Voxmusic which is situated on St Stephen’s Street. They’ve got Gerry Loves Records and Song, by Toad in person (s) too offering their full back catalogues. And there’s live performances from Neil Pennycook (Meursault) at 4pm in the shop and also PAWS at a venue near by at 3pm. All that and there’s some great pubs and coffee shops near by…. The shop opens at 10.30am.
5. Last but definitely not least – the daddy of the genre, Avalanche Records, is offering a full on day and evening celebrating all things indie in music. In fact, they seem to have encouraged participation in RSD12 by half of the Grassmarket, so it should be a great day. They’re clearly expecting a crowd with folk in the queue at opening at 9.30 am being given numbers – to allow browsing for the “pesky second hand vinyl”. They’ve got Withered Hand and Gordon from Ballboy performing in the afternoon and then a gig night no less at Electric Circus from 7pm featuring new songs and covers from members of the Last Battle, Emily Scott and the wonderful Starwheel Press (their biggest selling album of 2011 and one of the omissions from the SAY award longlist IMHO). If that isn’t enough, there’s even an official RSD12 beer on offer.
And if you can’t make it to any Indie Record shops, then check out some of the wonderful independently run and minded music blogs in the roll to the right. There are lots of special releases around especially for RSD12 and these blogs are bound to have some of the best. Mad Mackerel has already been plugging lots of fab ones in the last couple of weeks.
Oh, and whatever you do, don’t forget to buy some music from one of our many fab indie stores. If we don’t use ’em, we’ll lose ’em. It’s why World Record Store Day was invented after all.
13 April 2012
Yep it’s a month since the last one. A combination of stuff – big life stuff – getting in the way which had to be tackled head on but also contained. And ruminating about choons, old and new, and literature was no way to contain it. At some point I will blog on it, maybe just not yet.
And in truth, I’ve felt the Friday Flutter had become a little stale and cumbersome so I’ve been chewing over a way of mixing it up a bit. I’m thinking a Friday rant space would be a good add but your suggestions are also most welcome.
Meantime, the SAY award. That is Scottish Album of the Year. And it’s the single most important musical development in Scotland in recent times. Nothing says we have arrived than having our own award ceremonies.
Hats off to everyone involved with getting it underway. Shoulda been done years ago but these things take resources, lots of them, and are easier to think about than to do. A fantastic initiative which we should all support by facebooking, tweeting and blogging about. I know I will be. You can find out more about the award here.
The long list has been published and I’m delighted that some of my favourite Scottish albums of 2011 made it on.
Including Conquering Animal Sound’s Kammerspiel; King Creosote and John Hopkins Diamond Mine; FOUND’s Factorycraft; Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat Everything’s Getting Older; and We were Promised Jetpacks’ In the Pit of the Stomach.
But disappointed that there was no room for Starwheel Press’s Life Cycle of a Falling Bird and the Moth and the Mirror’s Honestly, this World.
This is more than made up for by the realisation that there were some Scottish albums which passed me by. How’d that happen?!
What am I excited to discover at long last? Remember Remember’s the Quickening and Jonny’s eponymous album in particular. I’m toiling a bit with the raptures over Twin Atlantic and Rustie but I will persevere. Mungo’s Hi Fi I did like at the time, enough to plug them on a previous flutter – just not enough to put them in my top ten of the year.
But without a doubt the one that I am loving is Muscles of Joy’s self-titled album. I missed it. Totally. Am only glad to have discovered it now.
The search to find Scotland’s top album of 2011 goes public in about a month’s time. By then, we’ll have a shortlist and everyone will get a vote. Can’t wait. Though I already know who I’m voting for…. I think.
Go on, get involved. There’s even an app to download….
16 March 2012
Yes I know, we missed a week. Was hoping you wouldn’t notice but I was just too exhausted to flutter. It was a case of courie doon in the nest and it will be more of the same this Friday night. Beer, pizza, movie, snuggles with the chicklet = Friday night heaven.
Of course, there’s only one subject for this Friday’s flutter. Mums.
Card posted, flowers ordered, chocolates, er, left in the office? Still, will be more than I get. Emotional intelligence is not something the chicklets are great at. They don’t realise how much goodwill a half-baked gesture will buy them. Not that I care, really. Not when my Mother’s Day present this year is going to be Killie lifting the League Cup….
Elliott BROOD – My mother’s side (actually the whole session is worth a watch – why can’t we have barbers’ shops like that here?)
Arcade Fire – Crown of Love
Alela Diane – Oh my Mama
Kid Canaveral – Her hair hangs down (cos this reminds me of my mum when I was wee – she had long beautiful dark hair that always hung down when she bent over us. And it tickled.)
Katharine Hepburn’s Voice – Out like this (the advice we all got from our mothers and ignored; also available to download in the Boxnet)
Lots and lots and lots of lubbly shiny new choons around just now. There’s always a wee bit of a flood in anticipation of SxSW. One year…
So let’s get into a Friday mood with some dance numbers. A shimmy after a long, hard week is always good.
How about a retro throwback with Nick Waterhouse, a kinda Northern Soul for a new generation. Is that clear is a stand-out.
Hot off the press – Delta Spirit’s new full-length. I love these boys. Clue: it’s the drum thing. Loving Empty House...
Then there’s the new one from Shearwater. First heard on Up all Night on Five Live (if it wakes me up it must be good). Lots of goodies on this album but as we’re doing dancey numbers, it’s Immaculate.
And if you’re quick – and reading this in Edinburgh – you might just catch Aerials Up in a wee fundraiser gig. They’re trying to get to Canada music week and have done a sponsored cycle, bless, to raise the fares. If you’re going dig deep. They’re worth it. I am? No they are.
Finally, after weeks spent circling around it and ignoring it, I decided to have a wee listen to Sharon van Etten’s new one that has been getting all the rave reviews. And despite myself, I like it. If you haven’t got yer mam a present for Mother’s Day yet and she likes her music, this would do the trick definitely. Though the title – Tramp – might raise an eyebrow. Test drive We are Fine..
A few weeks ago I heard Sally Gunnell on the very excellent Danny Baker show (how did we cope without him?) saying that her mum, who was in her 80s, suddenly fessed up to being a lifelong Gunner and that she had never been to see her beloved team play live. Sally was amazed at this revelation – here was this woman, her mum no less, who had a team and she never knew. They duly went to the Emirates, and her mum could name every player, their strengths, weaknesses and talked animatedly about the stadium, the running of the club and everything else in between. Stunned, Sally was.
It got me thinking. How many of us know – really know the woman who is our mother? We think we do. But do we know what makes them tick? Their likes and dislikes. What bowls them over and knocks them out. Who were they before they became yer maw?
Last time I was home, I found a photo of my mum and dad, she in maid of honour dress, he in morning suit, in an official wedding pose. She was beautiful. Radiant, slim, dark hair, elfin features. Absolutely stunning and my dad couldn’t take his eyes off her.
There is the woman my mum was and still is. Beautiful, intelligent, witty and edgy. In the sense that her cultural tastes have always been a bit of a walk on the wild side. And she still likes to rage against the machine.
My mum. More woman than I can ever hope to be. And this year, I really do count my lucky stars that she’s here and she’s mine.
Yardbirds – For your Love
Yes, small matter of a third outing in ten years or so in a League Cup Final for Killie. We’ll gloss over previous scores – they matter none. And I feel it in my bones that this one is ours. Who cares that Celtic are rampant right now? Fortune favours the underdogs. So long as we are brave, of course.
There’s a dinner to be negotiated first. What possessed me is what has been going round in my head in the last few days. A casual aside on twitter turned into a real live challenge. Let’s set up a political dining club. Yes, let’s.
A largely open invitation – to all parties and none – went out and here we are. 33 of us – yes 33! – meeting in Edinburgh tomorrow night for some decent nosh, fine wine and bon viverie. All parties represented but also just some politically interested types.
It will be fun. It will be great. No one will get drunk. No one will fall out. We won’t end up in the papers. Police won’t be required.
If I tell myself these things often enough, I might actually relax enough to enjoy it.
02 March 2012
Jings, here we are already in the third month of the year and suddenly Spring has sprung. A long week, which started off heroically badly and got better, way better. Lots of plotting and plans coming together which is always good.
It finished on a note of triumph – a trip to the movies to see the Muppets. Haven’t laughed out loud so much in ages. A top class slice of cheese. And a new catchprase to boot. *Maniacal laugh*
Gimme Sympathy – Metric (for a boy who’s been working far too hard this week)
Kisses – the Shivers
Why don’t you do it for me – 22-20s
Robots – Dan Mangan (with Elliott BROOD on backing vocals). My dream team actually.
Oh and Malcolm Middleton… prog rock? Not big, not clever. This is what I paid to hear: fight like the night
So there I am, in the Canadian indie awards site, voting for Elliott BROOD, when there’s all these nominees to trawl. As you do.
And I’ve been catching up on the postings at Mad Mackerel, or at least trying to. I’ve made it to the end of January – too much great music! Like this – the Lion’s Roar by First Aid Kit. And the hypnotic and very wonderful Brains by Lower Dens. And bringing you bang up to date, there is a free album to download from Great Lake Swimmers. Thanks MM!
Finally a whole lot closer to home, Favourite Son reviews The Machine Room’s album and Your Head on the Floor Next Door is a rather fabby introduction.
In hushed, revered tones, I am pleased to be able to share with you, not just the sessions, not just the discoveries, but the chat and the voice. Some clever bod has decided life has never been the same since John Peel disappeared to the great dusty record shop in the sky and put together podcasts of his sessions. Apparently, the intention is to do them all. In chronological order.
My life is complete. Yours could be too. If you shuffle on over to Pates Tapes.
(with a hat tip to a chum for sharing).
Thursday was World Book Day. And as usual, the burd spent it with her nose buried deep in one. Actually two.
Neil M Gunn’s The Drinking Well is the one that is enthralling me. There’s a fascinating chapter involving a drink-fuelled discourse about Scottish nationalism which is tangibly relevant to goings-on today. Only it isn’t. The quality and intellect of the argument pro-independence is stunning. If only it were so right now.
“When the normal man is down and out, he not only loses respect for the existing economic dispensation, he loses respect for himself. Once get him into that condition and his creative faculties are affected. Others must do things for him now. He has lost initiative for he has lost two fundamental things: first, belief in himself; second, belief in that traditional pattern of live which being his could alone help him. If that is true of the individual, it is true of the group, and so finally of the nation.”
Nine days and counting. That’s how long I’ve gone without chocolate and aside from the odd pang, it has been remarkably easy thus far. Largely because I have discovered the cake diet. Ginger cake for breakfast, carrot cake for lunch. That was Wednesday. Yesterday was a wee blueberry muffin. Today it was a scone.
This weekend, I’m going cold turkey. Beware, the air may turn blue.
24 February 2012
Another week, another cold. The fifth, I think, since the start of December. Still, at least I managed to struggle womanfully on, unlike many.
Lowlight of the week was definitely watching the Brits. Though I recall it being just as risible in my yoof. Don’t think any of us have recovered yet from them cutting off Adele in favour of the ancien regime. Not the way to treat the woman who has single-handedly rescued and propped up the ailing music industry in the last year, this last point, Pete Wishart MP pointed out. Especially when those boys from Blur not only got a big set at the end, but got to bore the pants off us with their acceptance speech which thanked everyone but their pets.
And I remember the days when they swaggered up to the podium, stuck the middle finger up at their deadly rivals while swigging champers from the bottle. How times change.
Afterwards, there followed a twitter chat with some of the yoof team – children of the 70s to me and you – who cut their musical teeth in the 90s and wanted to debate the merits of Coxon as “the outstanding guitarist of the last 20 years”. I wasn’t buying it much.
The Who – My Generation
Teenage Fanclub – Everything Flows
I am Kloot – One Man Brawl
Guy Davis – Candy Man
Jack White, formerly of White Stripes, the Raconteurs and lotsa other collaborations, is finally going solo with an album due out in April. I am loving the glorious lyrics of Love Interruption.
There’s a great session with Withered Hand over at Peenko (not dropped by for a while, but still great – especially the Friday Freebies).
Fanfarlo are one of those leftfield bands that the burd positively purrs over. There’s a slew of decent ratings for their second album, Rooms Filled with Light, over at Any Decent Music.
Meanwhile, everyone in Escocia is going gaga over a scuzzy post-punk rock trio from Glasgow called PAWS. Am I allowed to say I’ve heard it all before? Not that it isn’t good. And noisy.
Two weeks ago, there wasn’t anything decent to see or do anywhere. This weekend, we are spoiled for choice.
Tonight, it’s the 11th (?) instalment of Neu Reekie! at the Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh with a great line-up including LACH, the “godfather of the New York anti-folk movement”.
Meanwhile, there’s a fascinating exhibition on at the Museum of Edinburgh from the Scottish Political Archive. Democracy for Scotland: the Referendum Experience focuses on the campaign for a Scottish Parliament in the second half of the 20th Century and in particular, in the two referendums held in 1979 and 1997. There’s some great material, gifted from the likes of Denis Canavan and George Robertson’s attics. It’s definitely one for the political anoraks and I’ve already pencilled in a date to see it.
But me, I’m heading west for a day of kultur at the Margins Festival. Don Paterson, Tom Leonard, Billy Letford as an entree, to be followed by the main course of Aidan Moffat, Bill Wells and Malcolm Middleton. A feast!
Finally, it managed to escape everyone’s notice (nearly) but John Maclean, formerly of the Beta Band, won himself a wee Bafta last week. For a short film entitled Pitch Black Heist featuring none other than hot property, Michael Fassbender and Liam Cunningham (who has always made the burd swoon). Well done him!
There’s so much bad, rotten and downright scary news in the world right now. Syria. Iran. Palestine. Greece. And also at home. Unemployment. Welfare reform. Crumbling town centres. Poverty.
So what is the lead story in Scotland? The one that has dominated the news schedules, the current affairs programmes, the front pages, the back pages and even, the inbetween pages?
Rangers football club. Sad though it is, there are more desperate things going on elsewhere. Really, there are.
Aye Ready? More like enough already.
17th February 2012
This week has been all about friendship. The highlight has undoubtedly been the eavesdropping that goes with the vague parenting stage we have reached in the eyrie. The point where you are required less to be an active participant in your child’s social life but merely to hover in the background in case your presence is required to furnish the wee boy pals with juice, lego, paper, kit for a den, biscuits, tea, sleepover arrangements.
But I’ve also enjoyed renewing and valuing old friendships of my own and even cementing some new ones.
Aye, it’s been a grand week.
Airborne Toxic Event – Gasoline
Stromae – Alors on danse
the Jayhawks – Tomorrow the Green Grass
Wye Oak – Civilian
I’m not sure how I have managed not to alert you to the occasion that is the launch of a new album by Mark Lanegan. The simplest of pleasures are derived from the most unusual of sources – and while there ain’t nothing simple about Mr Lanegan and his complex layers of darkness, my joy is unconfined. Blues Funeral is a brilliant album, enjoy The Gravediggers’ Song, then go buy.
Another must have is the Twilight Sad’s outstanding album. Yes I know I’ve posted choons off it already but this is a definite contender for album of the year. Already. Sick is the current favourite from No one can ever know.
An album eagerly anticipated is the new one from Heartless Bastards. The burd is a big fan of the down and dirty country blues thang. In case you hadn’t noticed. Parted Ways is just the job for a little Friday shimmy round your living room. Turn it up! And go get the album, Arrow – it was released on Valentine’s Day.
Finally, something a little different. Jeff Tweedy of Wilco covers/parodies the Black Eyed Peas’ I gotta feeling. I defy you not to laugh out loud.
This week, I finally got round to visiting our new library. Sorry, not just a library but a hub. Which appears to mean a great big white concrete block out of scale with its environment providing lotsa shiny new offices for cooncil staff.
That aside, the library part is brilliant. And it was crawling with weans this week. My ain (three – they were joined at the hip this week these pals) were happy to join the throng. They all came away staggering under the weight of numerous choices – the chicklet has a thing going for Michael Morpurgo at the moment. It’s a habit I’m happy to indulge, funnily enough.
Not to be outdone I came away with seven of my own, including a Mina, a Moseley, a Leonard, a Gunn and a Shreve. I’ve not anticipated a weekend for such a long time…
Although I’m also pretty stoked about the prospect of a day of Kultur across the M8 next Saturday. The Margins Festival is a new addition to the niche festival market, quietly growing in confidence and size, with an outstanding line-up of literature and musical events. It’s all taking place at the Arches and on Saturday, I hope to take in Don Paterson in a kind of poetry mash up along with Tom Leonard and Billy Letford, as well as Willie McIllvanney and Allan Wilson discussing Scottish writing, then and now.
But the highlight – I hope – is Malcolm Middleton and Aidan Moffat with Bill Wells on the same bill for the first time since the last time (which admittedly was the first time since they split as Arab Strap). It’s going to be good, very good. Even if it’s bad.
I emerged from my blogging hiatus this week to talk about the shocking rise in women’s unemployment – expect more in this vein. Governments might not want to talk about it but I certainly do.
My concern that no one was talking about it was met with this riposte on twitter: “because nobody (except the Tories) is interested in dividing the unemployed and effectively setting them against each other”. I was then met with a little exchange, squatting in my timeline (I’ve also been absent from Twitter this week), to teach me the error of my ways which finished with “Working vs unemployed, sick vs well, old vs young, and now men vs women. Well done Dave. Well done Kate.”
This kind of misogyny and narrow nationalism is evident everywhere in the ether at the moment. Apparently to point up the fact that unemployment among women is rocketing and neither the Scottish nor UK Governments have anything to say on it, never mind offer, is tantamount to some kind of solidarity betrayal.
So, let me just say this to all those cybernats who do my heid and everyone else’s in. I will take no lessons from you lot, half of whom have only joined the cause for Scottish self-determination in these halcyon days, on social issues in Scotland. Particularly when most of youse have sat on your erses doing feck all to challenge social inequality and injustice for some of Scotland’s most marginalised and disadvantaged communities in the last ten years.
I’ve had enough of these eejits and it’s time to reclaim the territory of cyber discourse from them. Some of us have got thegither to set up a gathering for politically minded chaps and chapesses that involves nosh, craic and no doubt a bit of robust debate. All welcome by the way – just indicate interest here or by tweeting me @burdzeyeview. The first do will be on St Patrick’s Day – cos it seemed to make sense! – in Edinburgh.
Interestingly, only three SNP types have signed up for it, including me, none of whom qualify as atypical cyber Nats. I think that speaks volumes. And if the Natty eejits want to come? Sorry, but we’re full.
Hubble, bubble, toil and trouble. But mine aren’t nearly so big as wee Gordon Matheson’s, that’s for sure. Perspective is always useful when you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders. And as ever, there are lots of bright spots and high points in the mix too.
Perhaps, reflecting my mood and the need to find my get up and go, the choons this week have been a little on the noisy/bouncy side. Play ’em loud!
the Ettes – Take it with you
Air Waves – Knockout
Band of Skulls – I know what I am
the Builders & the Butchers – Down in this hole
So much new stuff, it’s hard to keep up.
There’s any of these from kill the waves – thanks @aidanskinner, one of the team at Better Nation.
And a band that have had me jumping up and down with excitement this week, a real find on Mad Mackerel. Orpheum Bell – Poor Laetitia
A call for choons on twitter resulted in a noisy, sub two minute treat courtesy of Bad Brains – Sailin’ On You
This next one, well I’ll confess to not having been familiar before now with the concept of Indian psychedelia. What’s it like? Possibly the best song you’ll hear all year. Hermant Bhosle – Phir Teri Yaad
Finally, this from the utterly swoonsome Gerry Love of Teenage Fanclub fame, striking out with a wee solo project called Lightships. This, Two Lines, is a wee taster from the album due out at the beginning of April. Pour a glass of something smooth, lay back and allow all your troubles to be suffused. Sigh.
I’ve often wondered what Charles Dickens would make of the times we are living in. As one twitter wag suggested, George Osborne celebrated the great author’s 200th birthday by opening a workhouse. There would be plenty of absurdity to lampoon, and far too much poverty to chronicle. And I’m struggling to think of any modern writer who could hold a candle to him frankly.
There are lots of Dickens’ novels I adore – one of the best things about the Kindle is indeed the fact that I can read them all for a pittance (though I do feel a bit guilty about that). Five I downloaded last week, including A Tale of Two Cities. My absolute favourite and its opening passage is possibly one of the most brilliant in English literature. It’s eerily apposite too.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
This week saw one of my very rare outings to the pictures to see a grown up movie. We worked out my last such visit was to see Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. But a George Clooney movie is worth making the effort for and the Descendants didn’t disappoint. It didn’t quite blow me away but that was probably down to it being over-hyped. And at times it felt as though George was working hard for that Oscar nomination. But he was in every scene and carried the movie so we can forgive a little method acting here and there.
At one point I thought I was going to have to leave. The subject matter you see. I won’t blow the plot for you but suffice to say, it was all a little close to home at times. No bad thing. It’s been just over three weeks since the death of one of my oldest friends and still at times, I feel overwhelmed by grief. But I’m doing the Scottish thing of keeping it firmly in its place which I know is not necessarily a good thing. At some point, there will be space, there needs to be.
I wrote a tribute to her and posted it far too soon. The kind messages of support and thoughtfulness were too much to bear at the time, thankless hussy that I am. So I took the blog down. What struck me was how many people were touched by it, and reminded of the importance of friendship, and the need to maybe reinvest a little time and energy in friends, old and new. Good. Life is nothing without friends.
The blog’s back up now. Feel free to read it here and have a wee bubble. I know I will.
3rd February 2012
It’s been such a good week on the music front, I’m starting this on Tuesday. Usually it’s a late night Thursday rush, or worse huckled together on a Friday evening.
Call Kaye did a thing today (Tuesday) asking folk for the songs that make them cry. There are lots that do this but not usually in a good way. Anything by Rihanna usually manages it. But seriously, there are three which throughout the years, for reasons known only to my brain receptors and tear ducts, never fail.
The Beatles – Yes it is
Sonny and Cher – I got you babe
the Jam – That’s Entertainment
Also BBC Scotland’s excellent Get it On paid homage to the humble 45rpm/7 inch vinyl single. Well, that sent me on a bit of a journey, prompted initially by the half time Hampden theme tune of Pig Bag, reminiscing about all the great singles soundtracking my teens. I’ve spent most of the week in a dwam, wondering what ever happened to my Just Can’t Get Enough single by Depeche Mode (I still have it, dug it out! How much do I still love this choon?!)
And one of the best dance tracks – in my opinion, others of course, may disagree – ever produced out of Scotland, which also happens to be one of the first singles I ever bought. Complete with Jim Kerr and a natty wee man bag, it’s Simple Minds Love Song. The 12″ version is even better and I still have that too.
Ah yes, a lovely walk down memory lane…
It’s also been a toptastic week on the new releases front. Django Django finally released their album – loving it but then you expected me to say that. Hat tip to @fredbarboo for sending me the link to this review. What do I recommend? All of it.
And discovered on Twitter, a great Tumblr site, the B side of things. It’s a bit of a jumble sale but all the more endearing for it. And plenty of good music to be found.
Like this – In our Circles – by Guineafowl. Also, a fantastic gallimaufry of an album from Summer Fiction. One I missed from late last year. My loss and yours I suspect. Highly recommended, and coming in at under three minutes to round off the January challenge, is Chandeliers.
Finally, from Favourite Son’s videos of the week, a stormer from Twilight Sad, which augurs well for the album release later this month. Another Bed.
No words this week, except to mark some special occasions.
Though this one is less special, more commemorative. Today is the 43rd anniversary of Buddy Holly’s death. I have waxed lyrical on the man’s greatness on this here blog before, so I’ll just let the music do the talking.
We’re all also celebrating a big birthday in the burdz family this weekend. The baby, the wee titch, is all growed up. She has been for a long time of course, but is long overdue a big splash. Less about celebrating the birthday, more about celebrating the person. And all she is, means and does for us all. Especially the burd.
In life, we are lucky if we have one or two special people to turn to in good times and bad. I’ve been blessed with many but this person probably tops them all. My favourite auntie, one of my bestest friends. Happy birthday doll.
This was number one the day she was born – fitting really, cos she’s made sure that none of us really are. Are you lonesome tonight by Elvis Presley.
27th January 2012
I could thrash and wail, and share with you my woes, the depths of my despair and the frit of my foreboding. And sad. Ever so sad this week.
But I won’t. I’ll just post the choons and urge you to turn the volume up.
The Walkmen – Angela Surf City
Admiral Fallow – Four Bulbs
The Acorn – Cobbled from Dust
Bonnie Prince Billy – Sweeter than Anything
Elliott BROOD – If I get old
Orphan Boy – Anderson Shelter Blues
I’m determined to see this three minute rule thing through. Through gritted teeth it has to be said. Whose bright idea was this?
First up, a song which is pretty old but which is new to me (see last week’s Flutter). Posted as a link in a comment to a blog whacking the Tories but deserves a better airing in its own right. Top choon – the Monochrome Set Jet Set Junta.
And then there’s this from Damien Jurado. Some of his stuff I love, some I loathe. This, Museum of Flight, is definitely in the former category.
Finally, two that are well over the limit.
Now here’s an irony – Tiny Victories’ Lost Weekend. No one to blame but myself for having to “spend a lost weekend walking around in my head”, when I coulda, shoulda been out there having fun. Sighs.
We’ll let Capybara off for the heinous American spelling but only cos the song’s a corker – Neighbor Crimes.
Contented wi’ little, and cantie wi’ mair,
Whene’er I forgather wi’ Sorrow and Care,
I gie them a skelp, as they’re creeping alang,
Wi’ a cog o’ gude swats and an auld Scottish sang.
I whyles claw the elbow o’ troublesome thought;
But Man is a soger, and Life is a faught;
My mirth and gude humour are coin in my pouch,
And my Freedom’s my Lairdship nae monarch dare touch.
A townmond o’ trouble, should that be may fa’,
A night o’ gude fellowship sowthers it a':
When at the blythe end o’ our journey at last,
Wha the deil ever thinks o’ the road he has past.
Blind Chance, let her snapper and stoyte on her way;
Be’t to me, be’t frae me, e’en let the jade gae:
Come Ease, or come Travail, come Pleasure or Pain,
My warst word is: ‘Welcome and welcome again!
Well, the scarves are laid out in a row; the rucksack of handy essentials – soft fruit, knee blanket, pocket hand warmer – is packed and ready to go; the car is in the driveway; the tickets are with the pals (this one is causing me no end of trepidation); the bairns are all excited; it is off to Hampden we go.
We’ve even brushed up on the words of Paper Roses. Just in case we manage to overcome our local and most enduring foe for once in a cup game….
20th January 2012
It doesn’t get any easier does it, fellow flutterers? This life business, I mean.
This week has been a toughie. Not without its highlights I grant you, but filled with plenty of displacement activity in a vague attempt to keep it all hingin the gither and at bay. Work mostly, music, blogging and making soup. Tonight, I’d just like to be oblivious.
The Haunted 1-2-5
Iggy Pop and the Stooges Little Doll
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club Howl
The La’s There She Goes
The Sonics I’m a Man
RIP Etta James Rather go Blind
This week, we’re doing rather better on the 3 minute poptastic challenge. Though none of these bands really qualifies for the pop moniker.
First up, a band which is new to me and therefore goes in here. My blog, my rules.
The Blue Squares have been around for a while and their sound is a retro garage rock thang. A burd kind of thang then. Try this – It’s No Wonder – it hits the mark at a tidy 2 minutes 36 seconds.
And another band which has completely passed me by until now and is actually headlining a free gig at Electric Circus in Edinburgh tonight, the Stormy Seas whose Morbid Desires just squeezes in at 3 minutes flat.
Some great music over at Mad Mackerel this week. Including this raucous lot, the Bats Pajamas, who appear to excel at noisy, in your face indie rock that delivers a delightful assault on the ears and then stops. 2 mins 24 secs for Red Scared.
And finally turning the volume and the energy down and missing the three minute rule but no matter. Pale Seas with Something or Nothing. Just the job for letting life, it wash right over you.
We’re mired in the process for the Independence Referendum and there’s a whole lot of willy-waving going on. Some of it even being done by the blokes. And as we wade through the inevitable glaur, it’s hard to remember that at the end of it, there’s a prize. A great big one actually.
Re-reading Edwin Morgan’s fine poem, written for the Scottish Parliament, brings it all back home.
“When you convene you will be reconvening, with a sense of not
wholly the power, not yet wholly the power, but a good
sense of what was once in the honour of your grasp.
All right. Forget, or don’t forget, the past. Trumpets and
robes are fine, but in the present and the future you will need
What is it? We, the people, cannot tell you yet, but you will know about it when we do
My melancholy is deep and still and even. Buried beneath, yet it still finds a way to break through.
And then it permeates, it shimmers, it burns. All the while, pierced with a huge sliver of regret and guilt.
Coulda shoulda done more. Been there more. Offered more.
Make the most of what you’ve got cos you won’t know what you’ve got until you’ve lost it. A platitude? No, one of life’s harshest lessons.
Johnny Cash – Hurt
13th January 2012
Forgive me, dear blog, I have been neglecting you this week. This being back at work full-time is exhausting. The routine has consisted mainly of work, tea, bairns and flop. And all the while we’ve been awhirl in a constitutional cauldron with the main protagonists thinking he (or she) who shouts the loudest, wins. This weekend I shall mostly be wearing headphones in order to filter out the white noise. TGIF indeed.
One highlight has been the swapping of laptops between me and the Big Chicklet. Hurrah, I have my itunes back and it has allowed me to fall in love with some old favourites all over again.
Dark and Dreary day – Huck Notari
Gotta Cheer Up – Cotton Jones
All Misery/Flowers – the Gutter Twins (from the aptly named album, Saturnalia)
And this – a belated birthday choon for the gig buddy. Jason Isbell Seven Mile Island.
The year is but weeks old and already there is stacks of good new music out there.
And then there is an album and more than a few “hot new band” tips for Django Django, who have in fact been around for a few years now, though they did a bit of a disappearing act last year. Shame, I was hoping for a hat trick of inclusions in my Best of list, having featured them in both 2009 with Storm and 2010 with WOR. This, Default, is a brilliant wee taster from the album. Turn the volume up and shimmy!
Oh, and we’re supposed to be doing choons under three minutes huh? Damn hard this game. Fortunately there’s this – Dies in 55 – from the superbly named Trailer Trash Tracys.
Finally, I am not liking the supposed improvements to Any Decent Music. Please put it back.
It’s confession time, flutterers. Despite protestations that I would never, ever forsake the book, Santa brought me a Kindle. Yes, I know. I’m a charlatan and a fairweather bookworm.
But to be fair, its taking me a while to get into using the thing. Far too much choice on Amazon, but none of what I want to read, easy to find. The most exciting discoveries so far have been that I really can download the classics for tuppence, I can link the blog to it (I have, shameless self-publicist that I am) and download documents to it for work, saving me backache humphing hunners of bits of paper around, once I can cope with parting with it all.
I’m struggling with the idea of shelling out hard cash for the pleasure of owning nothing that is in anyway solid. Which is ludicrous, given that I readily hand over fistfuls of pounds for real books on a regular basis. I’ll just need to get over myself.
So what have I read so far? John Burnside’s The Devil’s Footprints. And sadly I was underwhelmed, though I’m not sure if that was down to the plot, the characters, the construct or the format. It was okay but I wouldn’t rush out to buy it. Boom, boom.
We appear to have inherited a pre-pubescent whinge bag over Christmas. The chicklet is clearly in rehearsal mode for the real thing and boy, is it wearing.
Every little thing is a running battle or an unjust sore in his imagination. Nothing ever pleases him, not even when it’s something he thought might please him. The only bright lodestar has been the discovery of Saughton skate park with the new scooter he got for Christmas. Who knew there was so much fun to be had from going round and round and up and down a pile of concrete?
It is like a termite hill with craiturs of all ages crawling over it on bikes, skates, skateboards and scooters. Nearly a girl-free zone, there are a few wee hardy souls who try to mix it with the boys. They are largely ignored, bless.
Incredibly, we nearly never got one in Edinburgh and had to wait years while various denizens (firstly of the Meadows, then Inverleith Park) took to the barricades to defend their green space from an invasion of imagined undesirables. They might want to visit and take a look and see just how wonderful it is. There’s no trouble, there’s a fraternity spirit abroad with teeny ones tolerated and everyone politely making space for everyone else. And helpfully, there are benches for the long-suffering mammies and daddies who get to hing about until extremities (theirs) are falling off.
Good job I’ve got a flask. And a Kindle.
6th January 2012
A new year, same old weather. Where oh where is all this wind coming from? Aside from being sofa-ridden with my third lurgy in a month, it wasn’t exactly going out weather during the festive period. So, we ate, watched movies, listened to music, built lego, and tended the fish. And I coughed, sneezed and generally felt sorry for myself. Plus ca change.
What golden oldies do we kickstart 2012’s flutter with? Wind, rain and storm related ones. Corkers they are too.
Etta James – Stormy Weather
The Rolling Stones – Gimme Shelter
Fleetwood Mac – Storms
Garbage – Only happy when it rains
Billy Bragg – Black Wind Blowing
Is there anything so dull as the dreary days of January? What we need is a challenge, something to kickstart our sluggish metabolisms. How about new choons no longer than three minutes. For the whole of January. I’m game… let’s make them noisy ones too.
First up, an outrageously stompy track from Darling Pet Munkee, with laugh out loud, sing-a-long lyrics – Kung Fu Sandals. A tidy two minutes 13.
Then, two stormers from Dan Sartain, that are almost as eccentric as their author. Nam Vet (1 minute 43, including sweary words) and – get this – a whopping one minute and 22 seconds of perfectly formed shouty indie pop in Now Now Now
And if you think this is easy, try it. Bands don’t half like the sound of their own sound. All suggestions for next week welcome.
Ah Christmas books! Four received, one read previously and now passed on to a good home, leaving three, two of which I bought for myself. It’s the thought that counts…
Of the two completed this holiday, one was Ian Rankin’s the Impossible Dead. Which has some great lines it but which also, at various, utterly inappropriate points, made me laugh out loud. Twas his depiction of the SNP Justice Minister what did it, an SNP type I recognise well. Rankin is better than all his peers at capturing the mo’, of making his stories both timely and timeless.
And also at creating a jolly good romp and read, though I’m not totally convinced by his new detective, Malcolm Fox. Maybe I’m just a bit tired of the lonely, maverick cop type; maybe he’s lacking substance, depth and a hinterland (though, of course, that could be being saved up for later books); or maybe it just seems a little formulaic, with all the necessary ingredients there but not quite gelling. Yet.
I make it sound like I didn’t enjoy it – I did, in fact it was unputdownable. But perhaps reading it after James Lee Burke wasn’t totally fair.
For, no matter how incredible it is that Dave Robicheaux, in his 70s at least, can still be the action man cop, it doesn’t jar. He just seems ageless, though I’m still trying to recover from and work out the meaning of the book’s climax. Is he or isn’t he?
Burke’s books are violent, almost gratuitously so, and I shouldn’t like them but I do. His writing is by turns sparse and elegiac but above all else, it is rhythmic and vivid; in his plots, character development, dialogue and especially, in the location. You are there in Louisiana, smelling, feeling, seeing and hearing what Robicheaux does. And then there’s the social comment woven throughout, often expressed through Robicheaux’s prejudices and conscience struggles. James Lee Burke challenges some of America’s mores in a way few other authors manage to do – and still they seem to buy his books.
Curling up with the Glass Rainbow, possibly his best novel yet, was bliss.
“I had lowered my windows a half inch and could smell the odor of the Gulf and the sky and the land. The river was already running high and wide, the water way over its banks, a yellow froth scudding through the flooded tree trunks… The sky was completely black now, the airplane gone, the entirety of the landscape so devoid of light that the pale grass in the fields seemed luminous by comparison. In the background the rain was blowing in gray sheets, smudging out the paved road and the farmhouses in the distance.”
“‘Your home is a study in contradictions. Your yard is carpeted with dog shit, and your house is being eaten to the foundation by termites. But your pool area is snipped right out of Southern Living. I don’t get it.’ ‘The uptown nigger who built this place wanted to be a character in Gone wit’ the Wind. Except Whitey on the bayou don’t got no need for niggers pretending they’re white people. So I give them a real nigger to weep and moan about. I own t’ree rentals, a condo in Lake Charles and a beach house in Panama City, but I use this house to wipe my ass on. Every day I’m here, the value of my neighbor’s property goes down. Guess who they gonna end up selling their houses to?’”
Who’d a thunk it? We are Killie, super Killie. Or very nearly super once more…
Let’s be optimistic – it will be third time lucky in Killie’s recent attempts to win the League Cup. Just the small matter of sweeping the arch enemy Ayr United aside. No pressure then. And let’s not remind ourselves of results from previous cup fixtures against our nearest and dearest rivals. The tickets are bought, the scarves are washed and pressed, the words to all the verses of Paper Roses relearned. The memories of our last glorious 3-1 defeat of St Mirren at Hampden, rather than the inglorious defeat by Hibs in the final, are imprinted at the forefront of our memories, and me and the chicklets are counting down the days.
We are Killie, super Killie…
2nd December 2011
Blame Bear Grylls for a very derivative Desert Island Discs this morning. But he reminded me of some old favourites by the same choonsters he chose.
And someone shared this fabby Northern Soul number by Irma Thomas. I had no idea that Northern Soul had made such a resurgence – there are clubs and events all over Scotland practically every weekend. One day, maybe….
Oh and then there’s this. A great musical riposte for everyone feeling battered and buffeted by the Tories this week. Been down too long by Scott H Biram.
It’s getting awfy close to those 2011 best of lists, and hopefully we’ve got some great guest posts lined up for you again this year. Me? I’m going to do my best to make it ten instead of twelve, this year. But I’m toiling. And to add to my pain, there’s still some great new music coming out.
Like this from Secret Colours. Stonking is the technical term, I think. Oh, and the louder the better.
And in honour of Mark Twain’s 176th birthday, a great track from Ha Ha Tonka.
Oh and some more retro 80s/60s boy-girl sounds, one of the big noises from this year, from Summer Camp. I want you.
And Born to be Alive from the Morning Birds. If there ain’t something in that little lot to get you shimmying, you ain’t got ears.
Finally, No Future, No Past from the Cloud Nothings. Their best yet I reckon.
Well, it’s beginning to feel a little like Christmas. At least in our house. We’ve been making stuff and our now famous glitter and glue party is scheduled for next weekend, just as soon as we get the tree up.
The chicklet and I have got the countdown calendar happening with all the important social events logged. It’s almost as exciting as the three advent calendars we’ve got on the go. One of our favourite activities is when we go holly stealing from our secret place….
But now that it’s December, it’s “allowed” to watch Christmas movies. Tonight, we’re watching The Search of Santa Paws. It’s keech, if I’m honest but fits the bill for a snuggly Friday night perfectly.
We’re also going to try and read Christmas Carol together. And if we don’t manage it, we’ll cheat and watch the Muppets movie of it instead.
“It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good-humour.”
All that’s missing is a little snow. Hard to believe that this time last year we were in the deep freeze and under a couple of feet of the white stuff. The M8 ground to a halt and getting anywhere was a tribulation. Of course, now that everyone is organised with snow shovels, wellies, and bags of salt at the ready, we’ll not get so much as a smattering. Which means we won’t get to try out our new sledge. Bah, humbug!
25th November 2011
Have I told you lately that I love Twitter? Here are some of the ways that prove its worth in my life and brighten up my humdrum, largely work and housebound existence.
You get to follow amazing folk. And just occasionally, they follow you back. Like Paul Haig. Yes, the Paul Haig of Josef K fame. And yes, he really truly is my twitter pal. And the point is? Last week he dropped this wee golden oldie into my twitter email box. Just like that. And it is a dancer, make no mistake.
Also, some of us – okay, three and a half of us – have a Saturday soul project thing going on where we each post a favourite soul choon and share it with the nation at some point during the day or evening. The parameters, it has to be said, are being stretched but no matter. It always produces something I had forgotten about or didn’t know existed. Like this.
And nae rambling required, just this. Why? Just cos.
More reasons to like Twitter? I have a chum who is probably the same age or near enough, as the Big Yin. In real life, it would be worrying. But not on Twitter. Not when it’s just about sharing good sounds and he alerts me to fabby music like this. Banging, I think the terminology is.
Ever heard of a “Glasgwegian sound system collective” that does “heavy dub reggae”? Me neither. Now maybe this is the one that is banging.
Otherwise, is everyone making acoustic folky stuff right now? Or lo-fi synthesised pop? What is this, the 80s? I’d like some noise please. And in the meantime, this is the most interesting thing I’ve heard in the last couple of weeks, from Embra band Dead Boy Robotics. Choon to stream at the end of the blether on Peenko’s jolly fine blog.
The best way to express my adoration of Twitter is to plagiarise horribly, or actually just to send you to the wonderful @Shequeen blog, The Absurdist. She says it – as with all things actually – so much better than I. And make sure and read the rest of her posts. There is no funnier, wittier, laugh out loud funny writer around the blogosphere right now.
And finally, seeing as the wee birdy thing is blue, one more punt for its charms. Today I launched my Books for Kids for Christmas campaign. I won’t bore you with the details now. Safe to say, blog readers won’t escape my efforts to extort money for a very good cause. But as well as setting up an online giving page, I set up a twitter account – @xmasbooksfrkids – to promote the cause. So far I reckon my “ask” has been seen by at least 5,000 people. 115 folk have followed me (become my pal basically) and as a result of the tweeting, 40 people have donated already and with GiftAid, we have already raised over £1000. Amazing the power of 140 characters eh?
18th November 2011
This week, we lost one of Scotland’s finest songwriters and musicians in Jackie Leven. Despite his undoubted talents, stardom eluded him. Weel kent for sure, lauded hugely by everyone who heard him, but not getting either the fanbase or income he deserved from his genius. His was also an eventful life, the kind that lends itself to darkness, humour and lyricism, and this obituary – from the Telegraph of all places – is a fine and fitting one.
So a hop and a skip through the wonderful music of one Jackie Leven. RIP.
This is the title track from the seminal album, Gypsy Blood – years ahead of its time it is, and only recently acknowledged as a rock masterpiece. I’d forgotten how good it is.
Next, a wee clip showing him at his best: just the guitar, the craft and the voice, singing one of his greatest choons – Call Mother a Lonely Field
This song is a real favourite from 2009, a long rambling murder ballad, not without its humour, and all of it trademark Jackie Leven. Though the astonishing guest vocal from another wildman, Johnny Dowd, makes it utterly special. Couldn’t find a clip or download of it, so it’s in the boxnet at the side. Enjoy!
UPDATE: well I have this album somewhere but think it might be on the broken laptop or external hard drive and trying to find this track on the internet is proving somewhat elusive. Trust me, it’s great and definitely worth the wait. I will find it for you! Meantime, try this, which is so far from mood and tone from Lovers you’d struggle to think it was the same artist.
And in amidst all the internet hunting, I found this exchange with his record label which makes me laugh each and every time I read it.
Finally, this, a truly beautiful, poignant song displaying all of his talents. My favourite, in fact – One Long Cold Morning
Thanks to Mad Mackerel for sharing a free download from the Low Anthem – not just a choon, but a whole album! And also alerting me to Rod Jones, of Idlewild but here in his own guise, as the Birthday Suit. The album is out and it’s great and there’s a wee gem to download at yon fishy folk’s blog.
At last, a new album from a four piece from Atlanta that I love but few others seem to have heard of. Gringo Star don’t do anything new, nothing particulary tricksy, they just pick up their instruments and play. Good ole’ fashioned blues tinged rock. Visit Insound for a free download of Shadow then buy the album!
Finally, to prove I’m not just a transatlantic choonster, something from Sweden, a little bit shoegaze – they have become the maestros at it in recent years – a little bit melancholy and a big bit fabulous. The Radio Department – all the tracks at their MySpace page are worth a listen.
This week in November is a pretty momentous one in Scottish literary terms. Not only do (some of us) commemorate Norman MacCaig’s birthday with a wee hauf and a dodder through dearly loved poems, but Thursday 17th November has now been designated RLS Day by Edinburgh City of Literature. I can’t believe I missed out on the chance to wear velvet but there’s always next year…
I’m slowly but surely enticing the chicklet into the wonders of Treasured Island and Kidnapped. We get a couple of chapters on and then stall, but I am determined! And last Christmas gave him a beautiful edition of a Child’s Garden of Verse. He wasn’t overly impressed but that wasn’t the point. I like us having it.
This year, I discovered that the official Robert Louis Stevenson website has all his works of poetry digitised in original format to read and browse. It’s wonderful. I spent some of last night browsing Stevenson’s Ballads from 1890, rediscovering the wonderful Ticonderoga and also finding Heather Ale: a Galloway Legend. I had never read this and it’s a rollick. If you’re looking for a book to curl up with this weekend, I’d recommend this digital one.
Also this week, a major hat tip to Susan Morrison and Ian Harrower for dreaming up and launching Previously… Scotland’s History Festival. Run on a shoestring, with 200 events in two weeks, this first one is based in Edinburgh but you can see how it might go national. Here is a festival every community can participate in cos history is something we all have. There’s something for everyone over the next two weeks and I’m especially keen to get along to the Flytin’! Right up my street I reckon.
A controversial blue note for you this week – 5 reasons not to support BBC Children in Need
1. It claims to have no fundraising costs and that every penny raised goes to good causes. This is disingenuous. Children in Need is supported by the BBC which, of course, is paid for by the licence fee. The costs come from our pockets, on top of what we are urged to give, and having all those publicly funded media platforms to promote fundraising events and activities amounts to millions of pounds worth of free advertising for the cause, subsidised by the licence fee payer. Their claims of cost free fundraising are well wide of the mark.
2. Children in Need is a middle man and in tough financial times, is hoovering up resources that are then not available to other organisations. All those corporate sponsors, school fundraising activities, bucket collections in workplaces? It means these same people are not fundraising for other causes. Which is relatively fine if you are a children’s organisation and can apply for a grant but tough on everyone else – the arts, older people’s charities, heritage, animals, wildlife, homeless people etc.
3. The middle man concept creates a layer of bureaucracy for charities, especially smaller ones. The grants are great, they do a lot of good work but there is a simpler way….
4. Not much of the funding is available for existing work and services, so organisations have to think up new shiny things to seek money for. It’s called mission creep, taking their time and energy away from their core activities because the lure of funding is too much. Meanwhile, in tough financial times, they cannot get funds for the basic things they all do very well. Quite often, charities will find themselves cutting an existing service while setting up a new one. Doesn’t make sense.
5. It makes for excrutiatingly bad and cheap telly, Terry Wogan’s eye-watering appearance fee aside.
And if all that makes me into a scrooge-like carmudgeon, I’m happy to oblige. The moral of my little Children in Need tale? Give directly to and raise funds for the causes you support, including the non-children ones.
5 November 2011
No, I’m done talking about it. Actions do speak louder than words, so no more spouting off about how bloody awful Scotland’s Greatest Album turned out to be. Seriously, Scottish people, this is the best music of the last four decades????
Instead, an alternative gig is going on between maself and Bella Caledonia. See that wee tab at the top on the right? Click on that tomorrow and you get a far better top 15 for the 90s.
Meanwhile, seeing as how we missed Hallowe’en due to the Flutter’s absence last week, a catch up. Fifteen great spooky choons on Mad Mackerel’s Mix.
And some serious TGIF tracks. Perfect for stomping and shimmying. And if you play them loud enough, you might just block out the ack-ack of amateur firework displays.
The Chantels – Indian Giver
Congregation – Don’t Pay No Mind
The Warlocks – the Dope feels Good
A one time gig buddy deserted me to set up his ain rock outfit and that was that, or so I thought. Last week, a wee email out of the blue alerted me to the fact that his band have a record contract and a new single out. *impressed*
I’d be the first to admit there is an ocean of difference between our music tastes but a pal is a pal so I listened. And whaddayknow? It’s grown on me. I like it!
Check it out for yourself – Thirteenseven Stalemate
And back firmly within my comfort zone, this has been getting a lot of plays this week. Coke Weed – Not my old Man
The chicklet has, at last, discovered the joy of reading. Half way through the first *proper* book he has picked out of his bookshelves, he came home from the school library with a second proper one, and has started it too. Some habits clearly are inherited.
Roddy Doyle, I thank you. He is loving the Giggler Treatment and no, I am seeing nothing subliminal in his choice of topic at all.
Meanwhile, I’ve been reading pulp and ignoring the Booker shortlist piled neatly beside my bed.
And also watching an awful lot of bad television, like Downton Abbey. This Sunday marks the end of the second series and I do hope they sort out what it wants to be before starting on the third.
The first was so very promising. An upstairs, downstair soap opera but wending through it, some subtle commentary about the huge upheaval and shift that marked Edwardian England. How the aristocracy was being rescued by rich Americans, how fashions were becoming more liberating, how politics was changing, how women of all classes were still little more than vassals, even attitudes to disabled people.
The second series has become far less subtle, far less believable and in the process, much less credible. The characters have become caricatures, the social policy comment largely lost and the focus much more on cliffhanger-style plot elements. Shame.
I’m still watching though….
This autumn, I’ve been trying to impose some order to the eyrie. Decluttering in fits and starts and this weekend, I face a major wrench. I’ve had a swiss cheese plant in my life now for some twenty plus years. It’s been with me longer even than the chicklets, bought to brighten a student bedroom. It has survived major moves and tonnes of neglect, but it has been on its uppers for at least two years. It doesn’t look like it’s going to recover, and it sits forlornly in a corner, accusingly, adding nothing other than taking up space.
I’m thinking it’s time to say farewell to it, time to junk it, but it’s proving ridiculously hard to do. Emotional attachment to a plant? Yep, ridiculous isn’t it? I’ll let you know next week how I get on…
14th October 2011
Yes I am hoping you won’t notice it’s actually Saturday 15th. What can I say? The week ran away from me…
So, are we all watching Scotland’s greatest album on STV? I saw the 1970s and allowed myself to froth a little at the application of the FIFA grandparents’ rule to allow Rod Stewart in and an “any member counts” one to allow AC/DC and others in. Also, the expert panel annoyed me too, overlooking some of the punk and nu-wave at the end of the decade in favour of a soft rock prog theme throughout. Pah.
So I’m very glad I missed the 80s, the era of my yoof, for I fear I might have exploded at the injustice of it all.
Who made it in that the burd would have on her list? The Associates, Simple Minds, Orange Juice, Jesus and Mary Chain, Aztec Camera, Big Country and the Blue Nile definitely. And yes Danny Wilson whom I had forgotten about, possibly. The Proclaimers is a tough one – Sunshine on Leith is a classic but they could equally have graced the 90s with several of the tracks off Hit the Highway (and think we might be needing them to help fill the 90s or even the noughties).
And while I acknowledge how big Hue and Cry, Eurythmics, Lloyd Cole and Deacon Blue were/are, they wouldn’t have made my greatest album for the 80s. And even though I still have Bronski Beat’s album on cassette tape, neither would they. On the yardstick the panel were using, I cannot believe they didn’t include the Wets or indeed, Runrig.
So which five bands would I have had instead? Well, let me explain the rationale first. Bands that were either of their time, or have proven to have longevity or seminal influence, or spawned a thousand copycats should all be there.
And on that basis, I’d have Love and Money – Candybar Express (few songs capture a sense of 80s Scotland and its social problems better); Cocteau Twins – Lorelei (on the basis that Liz Frazer has had such a distinctive vocal and style influence on many bands and still does to this day); the Waterboys – Whole of the Moon (because it is still a great track); the River Detectives – Chains (a great wee band who should have been bigger than they were but were absolutely of the moment and this song just spoke volumes to a girl from a small town dreaming of escape) and Goodbye Mr Mackenzie, my absolute favourite band of the 80s which still finds favour today. I’d pick Goodwill City for my greatest album, but as it’s Scotland’s greatest it would have to be the Rattler.
Anyone got any more?
Flutterers, I’m struggling this week. Not because of a lack of decent new choons, but because of the death of sound on the laptop. I’m blaming the Big Yin, he’s blaming me. I’ll just have to get my one fixed, and give him this one back, soundless….
Anyhow, here’s an experiment. I’ll post a couple of choons, you tell me if they are halfway decent. Deal?
This one I did get to sample before the sound died. And thanks to @roryscothorne for recommending it. Good stuff! Air Review are not a band I’d heard of, but this choon is great and the video is wonderful.
And now for pot luck…. There’s this from Benjamin Francis Leftwich, highly recommended by Mad Mackerel, so we’re on pretty safe ground. There’s a new Scottish supergroup of sorts, the Moth and the Mirror, and so long as it is the sum of its parts, it will be excellent. Find out more about the band at Peenko, then listen to Honestly, this World, the title track off the CD (and let me know if it’s any good!)
This week, I have mostly been reading the welfare reform bill, the Spending Review and various other weighty policy tomes and publications. Not sure you’d appreciate a snippet from any of those, especially not on a Saturday evening.
So let’s do gardening instead. And flutterers, what is a gardener to do?
Normally by this time I am abandoning the garden to its fate. I always mean to tidy it up for winter but don’t get round to it, and by and large, such haphazard care works. This year, however, the grass is still growing and therefore needing cut. And the unseasonably fine weather has found me out there, cutting, snipping and pruning. It’s not a pretty sight. My approach to this is pretty drastic and probably would send the Beechgrove team into a flap. I haven’t a clue what I’m doing but enjoy myself anyway.
But today, I kept worrying that by taking away the dead stuff, and leaving all the bizarre new growth – especially on the early growing Spring plants – caused by our late September heatwave, bare and open to the elements, I was storing up trouble.
Have I done the wrong thing? If we have, as warned, as harsh a winter as last year, will my plants all cop it? Should I have left them all alone? But I want to move stuff too – hence the tidy up, to see where holes and spaces are, and what could and should go where. See, now I am angsting, and gardening is supposed to be my de-stress.
Someone reassure me please… or recommend a solution?
Long before they became all conquering election heroes, a former MSP maintained that the SNP attracted a certain kind of Scot. The one who liked to do things the hard way, who liked to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Which is why we tended also to support “wee diddy” teams. Like Motherwell and Kilmarnock. If we were lovers of easy success, so the argument went, we’d all vote Labour and support Rangers.
Today, I thought Killie were about to throw off the mantle of also-rans with a sterling first half performance at Rugby Park which blew Celtic away. 3 – 0 up at half time. Yep, that’s right, 3 – 0 up at half time, with three beautiful goals, and a team committed to playing a passing game. Life doesn’t get better.
But at the back of my mind, just as with the fateful day when Scotland found themselves 3 – 0 up at half time against Belgium – *you can stick your Belgian chocolates up your arse* sang the jubilant hordes – was the thought that it was all too good to be true.
And so it proved. A 3 – 3 draw against Celtic we normally wouldn’t sniff at. But today it felt like two points lost, rather than one gained.
7 October 2011
This week I know I broke the European Working Time Directive, even more than I normally do. But it was worth it (see below).
But I’m paying for it now. Too much work, not enough sleep, no play. Hmmm. Must try harder.
It was also the week in which it seemed everyone important in the world was dying. I avoided engaging in all the mush around Steve Jobs but will honour him here. Without him, there would be no flutter, or even A Burdz Eye View actually.
My conversion to digital downloading came very late in life – stubbornly resistant to new fankled stuff I am. But now I don’t how I would survive. So in honour of the man, the first two choons received and exchanged. One which started a love affair with the Kills, the other which reminds me of wonderful times spent in cramped student rooms long, long ago. Even though I know I’ve posted it before.
But I also want to mark the passing of another great, the civil rights pioneer, the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth. Studying the Civil Rights struggle for my history degree imbued me with a keen sense of the very real personal danger some of these pioneers put themselves in. And only increased my awe of their commitment and achievements. None more so than Rev Shuttlesworth. Oh Freedom
Finally, a song for a very special little boy whose life journey is nearly over, far too early. Yet, in his eleven years, he has humbled many of us by his ability to live a full life and give something – enormous amounts – back. For Harry Moseley.
I am officially in love. Absolutely, head over heels in love. With We were promised Jetpacks’ new album, In the Pit of the Stomach. I knew it was going to be good, the early release track, Act on Impulse, suggested so. Even Mad Mackerel was forced to admit that it would be “mental live”. And the new single confirmed it. But little did I know how good. Go buy!
And yes I know I’m doing a lot of cheating this week, posting stuff I already did. So, to make amends…. there’s a great new album out from Wilco. There’s a stunning debut from Still Corners. And there’s this fabulous Friday night choon – all sweeping, swooping and stomping indie-ness – from A Classic Education. Free to download from Insound music.
Yesterday was National Poetry Day. Not that you’d have noticed. Little mention of it anywhere, except in the usual places. And despite the Scottish Poetry Library’s best efforts, there was no poetry to be had in the chicklet’s school. Why not I wonder? But I shared a few on Twitter, and made a few new pals, as you do, who also love McCaig. It’s a small world indeed.
The Scottish Poetry Library is indeed an online treasure trove and I’ve only just discovered that every year, they invite a guest poet to edit the best new Scottish poems. The back catalogue is well worth a shuffle through. And in an age when we like things bite-size, this poem by Alexander Hutchison caught my eye. It has real verses and a tale to tell. Drawing you in, keeping you guessing, it is a journey in more ways than one. Lovely.
So what’s been keeping me busy of late. Welfare reform that’s what. Yes, I’ve blogged on it but I’ve also done summat. And I’m proud of my part, in the day job, of getting it to the top of Holyrood’s agenda. But today, I was reminded why it was important. I met an amazing group of people, who struggle on a pittance daily to pick up the pieces, to do what they can to make a difference in their families’ lives. One of them wondered if we hadn’t bitten off more than we can chew. We just hope we don’t let them down. The way everyone else does. Does that make me blue? A little. But it also reminds me that the most important thing I can do is not to get mad, but to get even. On their account.
Arctic Monkeys – Suck it and See
30 September 2011
This is the week in which old grunge exponents got to go gaga over their mis-spent youths by commemorating 20 years of Nirvana’s supposedly seminal album, Nevermind. It was an important album but its genre-defining powers are rather over-stated. In actualite, 1991 was a bit of a special year all round music-wise, and other albums have stood the test of time more potently than Nevermind.
One album which sounds as fresh today as it did then and really did bridge two decades and herald the future of music was Talk Talk’s Laughing Stock. I’d been a big fan of this band from the start and they pushed back many boundaries, stripping away normal constructs and using noise essentially to make glorious sound. Sadly, this album marked the end of the road for one of the most important, yet utterly unsung bands of the 80s. I still dig this track, New Grass, out for a listen now and again.
Also pretty important were these two albums, marking the arrival proper of American street music. Massive Attack have always ploughed their own furrow but they are probably the leading exponents of trip hop (though I’m sure others might disagree) melding US hip hop into a more British sound. I’ve always been a big fan. Blue Lines paved the way for others to follow.
1991 also heralded the arrival of the anti-pop band KLF whose star burned brightly before imploding in spectacular fashion. The odd one was Scots and he was rumoured to have burned a million pounds to point up the idiocy of the modern music market. Whatever else KLF achieved with the White Room, they resurrected the career of Tammy Wynette in her dying days and for that, we should be grateful. This is just a great pop and dance choon.
This was also the year I discovered the Wedding Present, a band whose new albums I still look out for. I think it was the novelty of an album with one word tracks on it that caught my attention. It marked a return to form for U2 with Achtung Baby, it was the year that REM arrived with Out of Time – an album that still gets a lot of airplay in this eyrie – and I seem to recall Red Hot Chili Peppers being the soundtrack of choice for everyone who thought it showed their edginess to buy an album with sex in the title.
But really, two albums stand out more than any others, and they happen to be from Scottish bands. Primal Scream’s Screamdelica is so seminal, so fresh, so timely, so frankly awesome that it deserves every plaudit ever thrown at it. I have to confess that I didn’t discover it in 1991 – what was I thinking of? But I still dig it out regularly; in fact I’ve worn out an album and CD version. Every song is a winner but if I had to choose….. And what amuses me most 20 years on is that Bobby Gillespie still canny dance.
It’s hard to imagine life before Teenage Fanclub. There are times I would admit that I have fallen out of love with them, eschewing their gentleness but the older I get, the more I appreciate the subtlety and depth of their offering. They just make beautifully crafted music and make it seem so effortless. The sound was definitely more grungy in 1991 and from it, launched a thousand indie guitar bands. Today, you hear their influence, way more than you hear Nirvana’s. In the burdz humble opinion.
A change is as good as a rest they say. And the same can be said about allowing a little bit of new into your life. Like this. The band aren’t new, they’ve been around for yangs, but I’ve only vaguely been aware of them, but it’s definitely worth a flutter through their back catalogue. Interestingly, there are two versions of this track – a bluesy one and the acoustic version. Which do you prefer? I’m torn….
But this week, the most anticipated musical event in the burdz year finally happened. I was practically crossing off the days on my calendar until the scheduled release of the new Elliott BROOD album. The first couple of listens to the odd choon off it almost collapsed my enthusiasm under the weight of expectation. They seemed lightweight somehow, a little bit mainstream (for them and me) and almost pedestrian. But perseverance pays off and now I’m getting it. Mother’s side has emerged as an early favourite.
It’s Banned Books Week. There’s a great exhibition in Scotland’s National Library which looks mainly at books that have been censored or challenged in the UK. You’d be surprised I tell ya. And then there are the very many tomes through the ages that have been banned that are actually some of our great classics. The list is huge and definitely has something for everyone. And challenging books is not an ancient pastime: in 2010 in the US there were 348 challenges reported. Including enough to one of my favourites, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World to put in the top ten challenged in 2010. Bizarre.
So there is no better two finger salute to those who would dare limit our choice and our influences, than to go buy a banned book this weekend. And celebrate the freedom to read!
And if you prefer your literature audio, Radio 4 replays its Marlowe season this weekend – each of Chandler’s three Marlowe classics dramatised, starting with the Long Goodbye.
There is still time of course to tootle down to Wigtown Book Festival – just. And with the weather this balmy I can think of no better place to be. Thoughtfully there is even a shore on the doorstep to go paddling along….
Just the small matter of a crucial rugby match tomorrow…. We all setting our alarm clocks then? Oh, I know we were utterly hapless last Sunday against Argentina but this is England we are playing and old habits die hard. The auldest enemy brings out the best in us. One word, or rather date: 1984.
A birthday-tastic flutter!
Not just mine, there are hunners of us out there! I knew I knew a lot of Virgos but I didn’t know I knew this many. And now I know even more.
Even on twitter we find each other. We neurotics appear to have a hidden radar that draws us inexplicably into friendship. This week I found another three people who share my birthday, and discovered lots more who share the same birthday week. It’s quite scary actually…
So here it is, the birthday-tastic flutter, with lots of birthday boys and girls’ favourite choons. So many, most of you will just have to scroll down to find yours. But they are all posted with affection and admiration – many of you are ordinary people achieving extraordinary things. The burd salutes you.
But a special mention to a very special few.
First up, the divine Red Magz. A visit and a late night over a bottle of malt putting the world to rights is well overdue. Soon, I hope.
Louis Armstrong – What a wonderful world
And then there’s my wee nephew, who will no doubt be oblivious to his immortalisation on this here blog but nonetheless, this one is for him. His birthday happens to be today.
A wee girl was one this week – always a special birthday. I remember reaching this milestone with my two boys with a sense of relief at having made it that far! And a burgeoning sense of pride that I helped make this wee person. Special indeed. This was picked for her by her daddy…
And two babies born in the same year, on my birthday as presents for me. At least I’m sure that’s what their parents intended.
This for the coolest wee rock chick around. Aged five, she loves this choon. Gies it laldy and is already a doyen of the drumkit. A gal after the burdz heart.
And for one of the brightest buttons in the box, a sunny, bundle of fun with a big heart and the most beautiful, big blue eyes. A heartbreaker in the making. The Fresh n Onlys – Dude’s got a Tender Heart
Nearly finally, the erudite Lallands Peat Worrier, fellow blogger and bon viveur, who was horrified to realise how his parents spent a Christmas some years ago… Fortunately, as well as being a great writer, he also has good taste in music and managed to pick one of my all time favourite songs – the Waterboys, Whole of the Moon
Finally, the cuckoo in the nest. Not his birthday but he insisted. And if it wasn’t such a good track, I’d have resisted….
Happy birthday a’body!
Don’t Fear the Reaper – Blue Oyster Cult
Greatest Day – Take That
Bubble Toes – Jack Johnson
Wave of Mutilation – the Pixies
I Hate Scotland – Ballboy
Hearts and Bones – Paul Simon
Nimrod – Elgar
California uber Alles – Dead Kennedys
You’re Beautiful – Phil Wickham
Perfect Day – Lou Reed
Have I forgotten anyone? Ah yes, maself. Oops. Here are a few of my favourite choons…
That’s Entertainment – the Jam
Write it all down for you – Elliott Brood
Dock of the Bay – Otis Redding
Old Perfume – Amy Millan
Somewhere around midnight – Airborne Toxic Event
You want the candy – the Raveonettes
16 September 2011
Not only do I know a lot of Taureans, we Virgos also like to coalesce. Like is definitely drawn to like. That way we don’t bother folk with our worrying in the middle of the night. And can practise our pursuit of perfection en masse. As well as moan about how insufferable everyone else is and know we have an understanding audience.
So, September holds a lot of birthdays for the burd. Most of which I usually fail to do anything about in time. But I never, ever forget any of them.
the Ronettes – Be my Baby
the Wedding Present – Don’t take me home until I’m drunk
the Cult – She sells sanctuary
And anyone puzzled by why these choons, sorry but it’s a Virgo thing.
Three from albums ranked and rated by reviewers everywhere, collated for our delectation by the rather remarkable Any Decent Music team. Who sit in an eyrie somewhere off Princes Street in between bouts of globetrotting to do wondrous things to online newspaper sites. Like I said, remarkable. And talented and Scottish.
This from Girls’ latest offering, Father, Son, Holy Ghost (accumulated rating 7.6) – Forgiveness
One more – and can’t quite believe I’m only just discovering this when it ticks all the burdz boxes. Jangly and jaunty americana perfectly pitched with haunting vocals and a great big slash of dark. Widowspeak are the band, Harsh Realm is the album (with a stonkingly high 8.7 ADM rating) Nightcrawlers the choon.
And finally, this sublime, understatedly anthemic track from Jones Street Station, the Understanding
There are few things that render the burd speechless. Or rather struggling for a response. I’m not great at blowing my own trumpet – no really! – so I ignored the Total Politics Blogs Awards thingy while all around me, bloggers were working themselves into a lather. And yes, I mean you, Jeff at Better Nation. Bless those boyish competitive genes in my team-mates.
This blog is my catharsis. Where I come to vent and blow off a bit of steam. For my own gratification really, a place to put down my thoughts on the world and its oyster, and of course, how I think it should all be done better (the Virgo thing again). If others read it and like it that’s a bonus. And it has been lovely to learn over the months that quite a lot of you do.
But I never expected folk to actually vote for it in an awards thingy. It would appear you did. And quite a lot of you, it would seem. 17th top UK leftwing blog and 5th top Scottish blog. Wow.
I am touched, tickled, proud and humbled. Thank you.
To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty,
To find the best in others,
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child,
A garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.
In Scotland, at least 65,000 children live with a parent who misuses alcohol to the extent that it impacts on their daily lives.
One in ten children suffers from abuse or neglect – and figure is rising.
An estimated 20,000 Scottish children are being raised by extended family members or friends – because their parents can no longer look after them.
One in nine children in Scotland experiences domestic violence – not just witnessing it, but living it.
Children and young people who are “looked after” by the state have fewer life chances than those who grow up at home – less likely to leave school with qualifications, go on to college or get a job.
One in four children in Scotland are growing up in poverty.
Support Scotland’s children and the charities that make a difference to their lives, through their services and campaigns to end violence, abuse, poverty and neglect – Watch and give to tonight’s STV Appeal.
09 September 2011
This week, the washing machine has done six loads, we’ve run out of milk twice and experienced a sudden dearth of clean towels. Yes, my Big Yin is back in the nest and it is lovely to have him home, having avoided the perils of earthquake, flood and hurricane in the US, but not it seems, those of bed bugs and late night Miami clubs.
And while my nest is back to bursting at the seams, many others are preparing for a teenage sized hole in theirs, as bairns head off to yooni and college away from home. Though it looks like their’ higher education experiences will be a whole lot more mono-cultural than ours were, with the eye-watering fee levels set by our “leading” universities likely to deter non-EU students. We’ll all lose out from that decision in the long term I think.
This Friday’s flutter would not be complete without a wee nod across the water to mark the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Some lovely thoughtful tributes and commemorations out there in meeja-land , including one from Better Nation’s newest recruit, Aidan Skinner.
Tonight, dear flutter fanciers, let’s resolve to make peace not war with our nearest and dearest.
To Ohio – the Low Anthem
Surf City – Dickshakers Union
Rivers and Rainbows – Detroit Social Club
Close your house down – Cordero
My music purchases these days tend to be splurge or purge. It’s partly because I get so much free stuff in my Inbox every day, due to a ridiculous number of newsletter subscriptions. The oldest is for Hearya. I like what they like, and even though the “he” behind Hearya can be a little annoying, he’s forgiven when he introduces me to new bands like little hurricane. Check out the great video for Give ’em hell here. And while you’re over at Hearya, I’d recommend any of the Okkervil River tracks, the AA Bondy new track and the live session from Wilderness of Manitoba. All of it free.
Also, don’t forget about Insound’s free mixtape for September.
Every year, I vow to read my way through the Booker shortlist before the winner is announced. Sometimes, I even manage it. And one year, I even managed half the long list. The announcement of the shortlist is therefore a meaningful annual event to this bookworm. But this year, 150 pages from bloody Julian Barnes? And he’s the favourite? Hmm.
Fortunately, I like Westerns and am pleased to see them shaking it all up a little with new genres and first time, barely heard of novelists. And hurrah for all the independent publishers with books on the list! Who said the book industry was in its death throes? These will be interesting but approached with a little apprehension, rather than anticipation. A recommendation for Carol Birch – whose writing I like very much – makes her Jamrach the must-read and must-read-first on the list.
And as I didn’t make it to Edinburgh’s Book Festival and won’t make it to Wigtown this year, I’m having them all. Now.
Tomorrow we are crossing the Forth, and venturing into deepest darkest Dunfermline in search of the mighty Killie. No one was more delighted to see the Fifers back in the SPL than me – it gives us another “home” game. Glory, glory Ayrshire Killie. Or at least that’s what we hope as we dust down the blue and white scarves for their first outing this year.
02 September 2011
Given that it’s my birthday month (hint) the only thing getting older on this here Flutter is the burd herself. And boy am I starting to feel it. So unlike the rest of the population who set themselves goals and targets at the start of the year, I like to take my time to get round to doing something about it. The start of a new birth year is as good a place to start as any.
At last I have determined – no more feeling fat, unfit and fortyish, I can do little to sort the latter situation (though I am contemplating shaving a year or two off…) but the first two? The fightback or rather the flab-back starts here.
So, more walking, swimming at lunchtime at least once a week, and a secret activity in the back garden. If I tell you, you’ll laugh so I’ll wait to see if it works before coming clean. And then you can laugh.
Less chocolate, fat, at least five a day. The libation is already pretty small these days. And at some point, I will get round to giving up the weed (the legal noxious one).
The aim? A stone off by Christmas. Obese I ain’t but it’s time to see if I can shift the signs of middle age spread.
Something old? only the choons, flutter fancier, only the choons.
the Specials – Too much Too young
the Jam – Start
Fairgroound Attraction – Perfect
Bat for Lashes – What’s a Girl to do?
Some great sessions posted at Daytrotter in the last couple of weeks, including this one from Cotton Jones.
An absolute wee gem to share with you, found thanks to being recommended in the Skinny (non central belt readers might well scratch their heads here – it’s a free monthly arts blatt and it’s fab). A perfect accompaniment to the creeping inevitability of autumn. A little wry, wistful and just the right side of winsome. I’m liking Helping Hands by Butcher Boy a lot.
And finally this. For a wee wumman who is far too generous with her time and her talents and who needs her pals right now. And a choon to share with her dancing queen.
Something Men – Birdy Roof
(and couldn’t resist this one…. Blitzen Trapper Love the way you walk away)
My one and only Edinburgh Book Fest gig did not happen. Not for me at any rate. My pops, on the other hand, rather liked his Father’s Day gift of a ticket to go see and hear David Millar in conversation with Richard Moore. We are both le Tour freaks, ever since the days of Robert Miller.
Millar, apparently, did not disappoint.
Fortunately for me, pops bought his autobiography and left it for me to read. At least I think he did…. he left it propped on the mantelpiece wrapped in several layers of cling film. I’m guessing reading it in the bath is a big no-no?
Another autumn, another round of Scotland World Cup qualifiers. *sighs* Like all other Tartan Army afficionados, I travel more in hope than expectation to Hampden. But I have to say, the determined tilt of the jaw to have a good time whatever the result routine is starting to wear a little thin, for this Scotland fan. Still… We can do this. If Charlie Adam can score goals for Liverpool, surely he’ll do the same for his country????
26 August 2011
24 August was my Gran’s birthday. She died when I was twelve, yet having spent most of my life without her in it, she still looms large in the memory. All five foot nothing of her.
Weekends were often spent in her company. Saturday mornings were for going up the town, in prized velvet jacket and a smear of crimson lippy. Supermarkets were visited in strict rotation. Coopers FineFare for fresh stuff, Wm Lows for biscuits, the Co-op for tins. The short journey home was delayed by a trip to the bookies to put the line on.
After lunch, we’d repair to the telly to watch the racing. Her ironing all the while, me marking her line. Dogs would be walked, fires would be lit, tea would be made, programmes would be watched, then the supper made ready. Always the same. Tea, toast and a home made bun.
Gran’s life was hard, full and tumultuous – how so was only realised as I got older. But the relationship shared across the generations is a special one, and I hold it dear still.
Work was a constant and there was only ever one soundtrack.
Another pint-sized dynamo celebrated a birthday this week. A good friend who never judges, who’s been there through the good, and importantly, through the bad. A good friend in fact, in so many ways. Enjoy.
And just in case you’d thought I’d gone all soft on ye – this. Play it loud!
I’m not quite sure how I’m going to sort a top ten – or even twelve – albums of the year come December. The good stuff is still coming thick and fast. On 12th September, Peggy Sue release a new one and if this taster is anything to go by, it’s going to be a corker. Earthy and ethereal in equal measure. I like.
Something I’ve not plugged for a while – the excellent Scottish music blog, Peenko. Who plugs a lot of Scottish stuff but not exclusively so. And every Friday posts a list of freebies. Last week, I picked up an Aerials Up choon – a band I’ve managed to see live three times and they never disappoint. They’re due a breakthrough.
Finally, a brace of dance tracks. What Friday night is complete without a wee shimmy? My Big Yin might even deign to nod his approval at this track, How Deep is your Love?, from the Rapture. While this one is utterly within the air guitar and mosh pit bopping style favoured by the Boy Wonder. Though I might be inclined to steer him away from the lyrics…. Home, from Team Genius.
Well the circus is about to leave town. The first two weeks of the Fringe are exciting, but come the third, Edinburgh seems just a bit deflated and steamrollered by it all. Next week, audible sighs of relief will be heard from the New Town to the Old.
I’ve scarcely been to anything this year. The one show I did manage along to, though, deserved more than the fleeting Tweet I gave it. It’s well worth going to see and there’s still time to catch it. Just.
Robert Burns: Not in my Name is Kevin Williamson’s tribute to the Bard and by now, having had many shows’ rehearsal, it will be flying. It’s much more than a Burns afficionado reciting poetry – though Kevin does do that, in a very natty T shirt. In fact, it is a wonderful multi-media experience celebrating twelve works written by Burns, but either anonymously or in a pseudonym, and only published after his death. Some will be familiar to the audience, many others will not.
The poems are presented chronologically and are by turns, seditious, treacherous, bawdy and emotive. One minute I had tears in my eyes, the next I was laughing out loud. What makes this a glorious sensory experience is the wrap-around treatment. Each poem is introduced by a contextualising short film – words written by Kevin Williamson, performed by Alastair Cook. The film explains how the poem came to be, where it appeared and Burns’ motivation for writing it. Each film was directed by John Paul McGroarty and there is a haunting, minimalist soundtrack composed by Luca Nascuiti.
It sounds like it really shouldn’t work, but it so does. The juxtaposition of sound, words, images should jar but the way to appreciate each film is to allow it to envelope you and prepare you for the main event. For that assault on the senses is simply the warm up, to set in stark relief, the recitations.
Williamson manages utterly to capture the meaning of each Burns poem. He stays true to the original text but also contemporises the poems, not only by the very modern media setting within which he places each one, but also by the imagery on the backdrop accompanying it. Burns was a man of his own time but is also of ours. His modernity and relevance to current events – riots, wars, poverty, media and political scandals – is almost breathtaking, and Williamson allows Burns’ words to speak for themselves.
My favourites? The outrageous Why should na poor folk moue? It’s comedic, passionate and Kevin allows the words to sing and the rhythm to flow. With Burns, it’s not just the words but he brings those words to life using cadence. The rhythmic nature of each line and verse, which reaches to a crescendo… well, you don’t need me to spell it out. And in a quirk of fate, Burns plea is a topic oft discussed today, relating to tensions about the “wrong sorts breeding” and the poor finding pleasure in pastimes some would rather they didn’t.
But the one which moved me the most was The Tree of Liberty. I hadn’t heard this recited before and having read it many times, I’ll confess to having only grasped fleetingly at its greatness and significance. Kevin recited it with passion but allowed the meaning and the words to speak for themselves. Nothing needed to be added to illustrate this poem’s modern day relevance, given the tumult in the world. If ever the Arab Spring and recent events in Libya needed a universal anthem, this might be it.
This is a great show. Well crafted, expertly performed. Every unit is worthy of praise but it is in how it all pulls together to put Burns and his poetry centre stage, that it works best of all.
On at the National Libary of Scotland every evening at 7pm until 28 August. Go see.
And if you needed another reason to do so…. On the way out, I asked two women what they thought and why they’d come. Because it was a chance to see someone from Edinburgh at the Fringe, someone they knew vaguely from living in Leith. And we don’t get nearly enough of our homegrown talent on this big stage, they said. Quite.
The liberation of Libya; an unexpected, long distance phone call; pay day; new colleagues; an extraordinarly hilarious dinner party for eight year olds; freshly laundered, lavender scented sheets; disaster averted and ruffled feathers smoothed; a fleeting but welcome visit; auld acquaintances renewed; a very fine wine discovered; a vaguely clean and tidy home; afternoon tea; the prospect of a trip home; the scent of cut flowers from the garden throughout the house; a movie and pizza shared.
You want blue? Then go elsewhere. Sometimes the simplest pleasures really are the best.
19 August 2011
It seems like it’s been a very long week. Full of stops and starts and ups and downs.
A big one for all those with a bairn starting school or moving from bairndom to yoofdom with the shift up to the big school. Some parents sighing, some of them sobbing, some of them silently cheering that things can get back to normal. In keeping with the week, I’ve probably found myself in all three categories at some point.
Mood shifts are strong and rapid. On the bus home, I was planning which of the wonderful reds to open from my Naked Wines delivery. By the time I reached the kitchen, I was gagging for a cup of tea. Nope, I can’t work it out either.
So a right mixed bag of choons for ya. Why? Who knows. Does “because I can” cover it?
Hot Lava – Mummy Beach (it’s in the Boxnet at the side);
Fresh & Onlys – Peacock and Wing (play it loud!)
The Draymin – I’m There (who i always think of being a little like a Scottish Talk Talk)
Huck Notari – Wall around your Heart (everyone needs a wallow)
Such a lot of good albums out just now, it’s hard to keep up. An old favourite of the burdz, the Ettes, released their third album this week. With the Ettes, what you see is what you get. A trio of one guy and two girls; a Spector-ish wall of sound; deep-throated, thrumming guitars and short, sharp choons that shoot like bullets. From the lip.
Apparently the official genre is beat-punk/rock n roll. What’s not to like? Visit their website and listen to Excuse, then buy.
This next album is the second from Other Lives and I might just have fallen in love with it. Already Tamer Animals is on constant play on the ipod, and while there are many things I might disagree with the BBC on, they called this album just right. Apparently, it’s “the most uniquely sublime, meticulous and heroic 40 minutes of 2011″. Yep, and it might just make it to my top ten of the year. Here’s a taster in For 12.
Finally, cos I’m in just that sort of mood for at least the next five minutes, one of my favourite finds from 2009. Step forward Mister William Elliott Whitmore. It’s blues and country with a hard, hard edge. He has a gravelly voice from which pain positively leaks: definitely my kind of chanteur. And I’m also partial to his ability to capture a swathe of history, lifestyle and culture in just a few verses. Field Songs is his new, fifth album and it is truly wonderful.
I am book less. Not in actualite but in terms of having something to read, if you see what I mean. Twice this week I’ve circled the bookshelves in hopeful anticipation that one would jump out, but no. All the ones on the holiday reading list? Toast. A while ago in fact.
So I’m counting down the days to pay day when I can visit the Edinburgh Book Festival and knock myself out in the bookshop there. All recommendations gratefully received….
Meantime, we’re back to reading Horrid Henry at the chicklet’s bedtime. Was there ever a more loathesome child?
I’m not sure if he’s a helpful literary (I use the term very loosely) role model for boisterous eight year olds whose behaviour needs occasional careful management. Yes they will identify with this most naughty of boys but it’s what mine is learning from Henry that bothers me….And if the chicklet wants to learn from literature’s naughty boys, well, give me Tom Sawyer “He was not the model boy of the village. He knew the model boy very well though – and loathed him” and Huckleberry Finn “…cordially hated and dreaded by all the mothers of the town because he was idle, and lawless, and vulgar, and bad – and because all their children admired him so, and delighted in his forbidden society, and wished they dared to be like him” every time.
Sometimes there is just so much to be blue about, there’s no point. You’d drown if you let it all get to you. The world appears to be going to hell in a handcart and dragging us down with it, so we might as well just get on with getting on. And put a smile on our face while we’re at it.
Our worlds are full of small moments of wonder, if only we care to find and hold them. Friends, family, food – it’s all the sustenance we need really.
Do you know, I think I might be ready to open that Carmenere now. Slainte.
12 August 2011
It’s been a great week for the Clash. We bloggers have been out in force commandeering Clash choons and lyrics to illustrate our rather less worthy words on this week’s riots. What is remarkable, in listening to their back catalogue, is their resonance to current events. The same issues the Clash was singing about in the late 1970s and early 1980s still exist today. How depressing.
From the sublime to the sublime.
Last week I managed to forget the track that belongs to my chicklet. That’s what happens when you flutter in a hurry. It more than any other choon speaks of him. And while Mike Scott wrote it, i always prefer Luka’s version of Sunny Sailor Boy
His birthday might have been a wee milestone; tonight sees a much bigger one marked for a chum who has top class taste in music and has introduced me to a range of bands and choons over the years. Friendships are forged in many ways, music being one of the better and more abiding ones.
Altered Images Happy Birthday
The Duke and the King If I ever get famous
It has come to a pretty pass when a week goes by without finding time to seek out new music. But it’s been that kind of week. Flutter fanciers, I have failed you. But you could always share anything new you’ve discovered this week?
Meantime, go to Mad Mackerel which this week posted various round ups, news of new albums from Peggy Sue, and Forest Fire, a new choon from the Howling Owls, a tribute from the War Crimes to Amy Winehouse and introduced new bands the Coasts and Little Gold.
You don’t really need me at all do you?
Well, four attempts at getting some festival action. Missed buses, changed show times, late performers all conspired against me but last night I finally made it to a show. One half of Bella Caledonia, Kevin Williamson has pulled together a belter with Robert Burns: Not in my name. It incorporates recitations, video, music and spoken word to great effect. A proper review to follow, maybes here, maybes at their place. But it’s definitely a must see show.
It might just be my imagination but I reckon Edinburghers have finally learned to love their festival (s). My buses that trail all the way out as far as Edinburgh reaches are full morning and evening with folk heading off to stuff. At work we’ve started an intranet discussion forum to share reviews and everywhere I go, I bump into folk I know and frankly didn’t expect to find there. It’s great.
But one place locals might wish to avoid – to leave it free for the visitors – just now is the new, old museum. Re-opened at the end of July it has been going like a train ever since. We popped in for a quick look on Sunday that took rather longer than expected by sheer dint of the crowds. If you’re visiting Edinburgh, go. It’s fabulous. The rest of us should wait until September.
Have you ever seen such rain? Being Scots, we probably have, just not in August.
It’s done for the blue garden. Everything looking bedraggled and sorry for itself, yet the bees and flutter-bys (moths in the evening) just love it. Standing still and watching, counting, spotting the different species is a joy. A little slice of nature heaven that calms and soothes the soul. Grand.