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12 Albums

12 Feb

I’m only here really because I saw the 12 Album challenge thing on Facebook and I thought I’d have a crack at it. But I didn’t want to put it on Facebook as I bore people on there about music enough. So I’m putting it here, just so it goes somewhere.

The idea is to name 12 albums that have stayed with you. Not necessarily your favourites, but the ones you keep coming back to, or that played a big part in your life. So in no particular order:

Suede – Suede. Because it was the first album I bought while at university and it completely changed my musical tastes. Before then I’d been into metal (and Grunge) and they opened up the whole world of indie music for me. Admittedly, that meant I spent a few years lost in Britpop but I won’t hold that against them.

The Smiths – Singles. Is a compilation a bit of a cheat? Maybe, but I’ve listened to this at least once a month since I bought it about 20 years ago. Probably the best band ever.

Bruce Springsteen – Darkness on the Edge of Town. Everyone thinks of Springsteen as being a bit of a dull, middle of the road pub-rock singer. And sometimes he is. But this album is just superb. On it he’s like a small-town, blue-collar 70’s version of Bob Dylan. It’s proper haunting. I listen to it all the time and I don’t care who knows it.

John Frusciante – Shadows Collide with People. The songs on this record have the same effect on me as crack cocaine would. When I listen to them I listen to them over and over to the exclusion of everything else. I don’t know why. Probably because Frusciante is a genius. He even made the Red Hot Chilli Peppers worth listening to.

Nirvana – Unplugged. I know, Nevermind is a masterpiece. But I listened to it so much for so long. I didn’t ruin this one for myself as much and so I still go back to it a lot more often.

Jeff Buckley – Grace. Just one of the best and most original records ever recorded. Such a shame he never really did more. Seeing him live is one of my favourite memories from my student days.

Portishead – Dummy. In the same week I bought this I also bought REM’s Automatic for the People, and Nirvana’s Nevermind. What a week that was.

The Lemonheads – It’s a Shame About Ray. Criminally underrated band, and this is their best record. It’s just full of perfect, though slightly wonky, pop songs. Wonky is good. I like wonky.

INXS – Kick. Just because when I was a teenager everyone had this record. It got played at every party and you could dance to it without looking like a dick (or so I like to think).

The Misfits – Collection. Another compilation, but all their songs sound the same anyway so I reckon I can get away with it. Not much in terms of melody or tunes or musicianship. It’s basically just sheer energy, but there’s nothing wrong with that.

Radiohead – The Bends. Better than OK Computer for me. Everything just came together on this record. And Thom Yorke was the coolest man alive for about 6 months when this came out. I bought a leather jacket and a pair of trainers that were the same as the ones he wore in the video for ‘Just’. Oh dear.

The Prodigy – Fat of the Land. It just hasn’t aged. I listened to it the other day and ‘Breathe’ sounds like it was recorded last week rather than nearly 20 years ago.


Metal Machine Music

8 Oct

skylarkShort post because it’s late, and I’m tired, and I have work tomorrow, and I need to shave my head before I go to sleep…

Issue 1 of Skylark Review is now out and my story ‘Metal Machine Music’ – a fictional tribute to the best/shittest album Lou Reed ever produced – is in it. For which I feel duty bound to tell you it’s surely worth £7 of anyone’s money. (That’s £7 for the other stuff in there and you’ll get my story as a mandatory extra).

Oh, and I’ll probably be reading something, maybe ‘Metal Machine Music’, maybe something else, at the launch event in Cardiff on 16th October.

100% / Serpents

18 Aug

Very very very short post – so short in fact I had to stick three ‘verys’ into it to pad it out, as well as this explanation which is also now padding it out…

Ok, so my story ‘100% / Serpents’ is now on the brilliant Drunk Monkeys website as I mentioned about a week ago. You can see it by clicking here: 100% / Serpents on Drunk Monkeys.

Also, while you’re on there, check out the Cathy Ulrich story ‘Bitter Tea’. In fact, check that out first, it’s better than mine: Bitter Tea.

That’s all really. Step away from the blog, nothing else to see here on the blog.

#9 Dream

3 May

Bus lanes suspended
Use all lanes
Regular diesel 139.7
Everton 4 Kirkdale 5
Kebab Open Tattoos
News ‘n Booze
JADE football stadia
Lanes merge
96.7 Student Rooms
Hashtag DEMAND
The Car ton Pub ic Ho se
Gemma Walker is a Slag
Emergency Works
Garage in use 24 hours

The Cheese Family and Me

22 Nov

I forgot I wrote this. It was a response to a BBC story about foreign names which I sent in about 2 weeks ago. I’m off work today with this virulant man-flu thing that’s been going around so the first I knew about it was when my phone started pinging with messages from people who’d seen it. Woke me up from a fevered half-sleep in fact:


The Cheese Family and more Reader’s Names


Anyway, yeah, it’s mildly amusing. Ironically, considering it’s about mis-spellings of my surname, they’ve actually mis-spelt my surname in one instance. Or maybe that was me when I sent it in – which kind of undermines my argument a bit…

I don’t do poetry

28 Feb

I really don’t. I wrote a load of Haiku a few years ago, but I don’t really view that as poetry. That may sound a bit bizarre, but what I mean is that Haiku, to me, is more a concise snapshot of thought/perception than what you would think of as verse. In any case, I haven’t written a poem since I was about eighteen. I don’t have anything against poetry, it’s just not my thing.

Except that this week, for some completely unknown reason, I wrote one. I’m not sure what I think about it; I doubt I’ll be making a habit of it. But here it is. I was going to call it Happy Diwali Daily Mail, but as it is I’ve called it Rhapsody on a Theme by Sylvia Plath. How’s that for pretention?

The devil makes work for idle hands

and he made no exception for you.

The curtains are drawn,

the blinds are down;

the only light is the aqua-marine

and the twinkling cities

of the world you caught in your miserly net;

the one you shrunk like the head of a pigmy

and set in orbit round the chair you never leave.

Look at them move and scurry about:

the little people,

beyond your contempt.

Omnificent you, an opinion on everything;

a Titan, a God, with an IQ of eighty.

You’re bored? Then a plague,

your wrath made pestilent,

will remind us how useless we are.

An earthquake in Bradford,

AIDS for the scroungers,

a tsunami that will wash only queers away.

The firstborn of immigrants,

and most violent of all:

a famine for the fallen like me –

the cloven-hoofed liberals who don’t really care,

who live and let live, psychotically.


Empathise, and go to hell,

six billion and more in a handcart.

It’s the war of your world, the unholy crusade,

with the losers cast out east of Croydon.

There’s a burning bush for Piers Morgan though:

get rich, stay white, be obnoxious as fuck;

for the rest it’s Gomorrah – we deserve it.

The devil makes work for idle hands,

and it’s me, I am legion, and alive

you old bastard.

Big Tobacco

23 Jan

Another post on an album review I did on Amazon. This one is for Joe Pernice’s Big Tobacco.

Once or twice to kill my pain, and once to bring it back again…

The first line of the first song sums this album up for me. It’s a masterclass in bittersweet songwriting, and possibly Joe Pernice’s best record. A bit more stripped back than the harmony laden production of The Pernice Brothers or Chappaquiddick Skyline. But no less infectious.

I discovered this guy by accident while messing about on iTunes, and having heard quite a bit of his music now I’ve been left wondering why he isn’t more of a household name. You can, I guess, throw about the alt-country or Americana tags but his music kind of transcends that. Lovely vintage pop harmonies and melodies, solid musicianship and well crafted songs.

The highlight here for me is ‘Bum Leg’. The guitar part has a great gothic alt-country feel to it that reminds me of Wim Wenders films, small town dustbowl America. But for me, it’s the lyrics that lift it to something else. Very understated telling of a violent encounter under a bridge. Very gritty and compelling. Clever songwriting too – at one point he gets quite a wordy section to fit the melody and sound like it rhymes even though it doesn’t. “Could you walk a little slower/my legs don’t work so good in this cold weather”. Brilliant stuff.

What does all this rambling tell you about the record? Well, that it’s a good one. Joe Pernice should be a bigger star than he is. Buy it, I think you’ll like it.