Monday, July 31, 2006

Sundae, Sundae here again

So, my mini-run of summer festivals starts here. But why is it that two of them have the word ‘Sundae’ in the title? An accident of circumstances I guess. But maybe not. I can understand the first one – the Ben & Jerry’s sponsored ‘Sundae’ festival on Clapham Common on Saturday. After all, they are ice cream makers. And there really was as much ice cream as it was possible to eat, until you became sick and threw it all back up (I didn’t). The other similarly-titled festival is Summer Sundae in Leicester in a couple of weeks time. The name remains as a relic from the first festival, which was held on a Sunday back in 2001. Still, it was a rubbish name even then and now it’s obsolete too, since the festival has expended to a three-day affair. Someone should think up a better name, as it really is a great festival (this will be my fifth year) which deserves better. More on that in a fortnight or so.

Anyway, back to Saturday’s Sundae in SW4. Apart from the aforementioned free ice-cream, it was pretty much as you would expect a festival put on by ageing hippies Ben and Jerry to be. Fun for all the family – plenty to keep the kids occupied (animals, swings etc), lots of good environmental causes competing for your attention, and a laidback vibe. The music was alright too.

We caught snatches of Roland Shanks and Liam Frost between eating lunch, talking to friends and checking out the site. The first were generic post-punk, and the latter was generic singer-songwriter fayre. Neither essential, but probably OK to eat ice-cream to for half and hour.

The first (and really only) band I was really excited about was The Pipettes. I’ve said enough about them on this blog already, so no need to add any more. Suffice to say that they were great, and just about had the crowd pulling shapes and they strutted their stuff on stage.

Download: The Pipettes – Because it's not Love (but it's still a feeling)
Donwload: The Pipettes – Guess Who Ran Away with the Milkman

Next up were Larrikin Love – the much touted new band from Twickenham. I was eager to see what all the fuss has been about. The answer? Not much really. OK, they make a generally agreeable racket, and have an energetic frontman in Edward Larrikin, but it was nothing unique and compelling enough to make me follow-up with either CD purchases or future gigs. In an attempt to make them sound more interesting (probably), some critics have dubbed them ‘gypsy punk’. Well, if that’s the case, then they’re the McFly to Gogol Bordello’s Clash.

Download: Larrikin Love – Downing Street Kindling

I’ve never really had the inclination to venture into Echo and the Bunnymen’s back catalogue, despite always quite liking the little I’ve heard. In fact I didn’t even realise the legendary indie band were a going concern, so an opportunity to see them was welcome. The older fans made a lot of noise at the intros I didn’t recognise, and Ian McCulloch cut his typical statuesque figure in his trademark dark glasses. He must have been feeling far from home in south London though, when he asked if there were any Scousers in the audience. Apart from the emergence of an double necked guitar, it was all fine. But I’m still not hugely tempted by the back catalogue.

Download: Echo and the Bunnymen – Killing Moon
Download: Echo and the Bunnymen – The Cutter

Headlining was Badly Drawn Boy, making a return after a two-year absence from the music scene. In that time he’s departed from his old label XL, signed for EMI and cut a new album. He apologised in advance for being under-rehearsed, and sure enough, three songs in, he had to restart a song. But no-one really minded. It’s not like he’s got a reputation as a virtuoso or anything. He started with new single Born in the UK, which is apparently his take on Springsteen’s Born in the USA, and namechecks Thatcher and the Falklands War among other things. It sounded quite good. He did another decent-sounding newie, but by the time he got around to Silent Sigh we had to leave to travel across town to see Gotan Project at Shepherd’s Bush Empire. More on that later…

Download: Badly Drawn Boy – Holy Grail
Download: Badly Drawn Boy – Something to Talk About (Four Tet Convention Remix)

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Low @ Koko, 26 July 2006

I’ve had an ongoing disagreement with my mate Dan about Low. I’ve gone on record with my opinion that the Minnesota band’s best album is their most recent – The Great Destroyer from last year. He doesn’t agree, and doesn’t really like it. I think he felt some justification when ATP announced that Low would be playing Things We Lost in the Fire as part of this year’s Don’t Look Back series. After all, these are meant to be the shows where the band plays through their greatest works. I think we both compromised on the notion that it was their most definitive album. I can go with that, because it was the first proper Low LP that I bought (my introduction was the Christmas EP), so it does occupy a special place for me.

On a particularly sweltering London evening, Koko was surprisingly but mercifully cool. Low are just one of the most unassuming bands ever. No big entry. Just a walk on, a wave and straight into Sunflower. I actually hadn’t listened to Things We Lost… for ages, but lately deliberately not listening, so that the performance could come to me a bit fresher. I’m quite glad of that, because it did. I wasn’t pre-playing the exact notes or chords in my head before each song. I could just stand there and soak in the sheer beauty of it all.

Goosebump moments were a-plenty. The first major one was during the achingly gorgeous Laser Beam, but they continued throughout.. The harmonies were just perfect, and Mimi Parker's few lead vocal slots just leave the desire for her to sing more. And the album was over way too soon. Maybe one play thorough isn’t enough. It reminded me that it’s not just on The Great Destroyer that Low rock out, as they so thrillingly demonstrated on Whore and In Metal.

Low are also a very sparse, even frugal band. That’s not a complaint though. There are just three of them for a start (though last night they were augmented by a violinist and a guy on keyboards and laptop sounds). Mimi doesn’t even have a full drum kit. There’s no fancy stuff in their songs. Their playing is slow and deliberate, as if every moment is to be savoured. Alan Sparhawk only uses one guitar throughout the gig (that he only needs to re-tune once). There’s little in the way of speaking between songs (even less need when everyone knows what’s coming next). And even their lyrics are economical – they don’t encumber songs with too many words, and favour repetition. But when the songs are so beautiful you don’t mind. I could have listened to them singing 'Don’t Carry it All' (in the encore) over and over again all night. It was a shame it had to end.

As expected, there was an encore, where they did some b-sides, some more recent songs, and for a second encore, all the faithful fans who were shouting for Two Step got their wish. But the star of the show was definitely Things We Lost in the Fire. I may even have to re-evaluate my position on what Low’s greatest album is now. But I’m still sticking by my assertion on the quality of The Great Destroyer. Maybe all these amazing songs together just serve to prove that Low really are one of the greatest bands in the world today.

Download: Low – Laser Beam
Download: Low – Whore
Download: Low – Closer

Buy Things We Lost in the Fire. You really need it.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Disco Pogo for Punks in Pumps - volume 8

Back to the Jockey Slut Disco Pogo series. This one's number 8 from July 2003. Three whole years ago. On the front of the mag (as you can see – along with my Tube map jigsaw) were the Neptunes. Inside we were introduced to little-known producer Danger Mouse (then part of DM & Jemini), said hello to new NYC band !!!, saw Tiga's fists, and puzzled over trip-hop wierdo Tricky. Dizzee Rascal's Boy in Da Corner was album of the month. Which reminds me – what's he up to these days? It's been a couple of years since Showtime.

Unusually, the Disco Pogo CD isn't so hot for this month. There are a couple of stand-out tracks – The Cinematic Orchestra's The Awakening of a Woman, from their soundtrack to the classic 1929 Russian film Man With a Movie Camera, and The Nextmen, summoning more of the big playas in UK hip hop for their barnstorming anthem Firewalk. There are a few other decent enough ones, including from MF Doom side project King Geedorah, Carl Craig re-working someone called Francois de Roubaix's tune, and another one from some bloke called Williams.

Still, how many series get to number 8 before showing any obvious signs of weakness?

Download: The Cinematic Orchestra – The Awakening of a Woman
Download: King Geedorah – Fazers
Download: The Nextmen – Firewalking (feat Rodney P, Dynamite MC and Cutty Ranks)
Download: Williams – Bubble Jam
Download: Francois de Roubaix – La Mer est Grande (Carl Craig remix)

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Two welcome returns

Today I’m celebrating two welcome comebacks. One is a Brit who’s had a sojourn in the American south and is now returning home. The other is a guy from the American south who’s been the in the UK for a while and has now headed back to Texas.

These people are of course Cerys Matthews and Micah P Hinson. No prizes for guessing.

First up, is the former singer of Welsh band Catatonia, whose tales of drink, drugs and generally falling off the wagon were legendary among the fading embers of Britpop in the late 90s. Then she disappeared, only to crop up in Nashville in 2003, married, living in the backwoods and about to pop a sprog. At the same time, she released her debut solo album Cockahoop, full of country folky delights – some covers and a few of her own compositions (including Chardonnay – a wry look back at her past life).

Well, now she’s back again. And if the last time was slightly low-key, this time she’s announcing it a wee bit louder. She’s been all over the British papers that used to be called broadsheets at the weekend, recalling her life in Catatonia, Tennesse and why she’s moving back to Wales with her husband and two kids. You can read all about it in the Guardian, the Independent and the Observer at least.

The new album? There’s a track – Morning Sunshine – from it being put out as a taster. After a few listens, I think I like it. It’s certainly striking out in a slightly poppier direction, which she readily admits to in the interview(s). Maybe this is the album that’ll make her a famous singer-songwriter in her own right. Here’s Morning Sunshine, and just to remember, a couple of tracks from Cockahoop. The one with the funny name is her version of an old Welsh hymn.

Download: Cerys Matthews – Morning Sunshine
Download: Cerys Matthews – If You’re Looking For Love
Download: Cerys Matthews – Arglwydd Dyma Fi

Buy Cockahoop or pre-order Never Said Goodbye (why does Amazon have the Hal album cover here? Bizarre.)

The second comeback is from gruff-voiced young Texan Micah Paul Hinson, whom I’ve proclaimed love for previously on this blog. It transpires (according to Pitchfork) that he’s had serious problems with his back as a result of some friend ‘joking around’, and he’s gone back to The States for a operation. He’s touring there as well, in advance of his new album Micah P Hinson and the Opera Circuit. What’s in a name? How does that differ in style and substance from 2004 debut Micah P Hinson and the Gospel of Progress? It won't be entirely clear until I hear more from the album, and I’m reserving judgement until then.

The track Jackeyed has been put out as a taster, and it’s certainly a bit of a departure from his previous stuff. Where that was gritty, rough-cut and soulful, this is a bit more polished. The soul here is supplied by a big string sound and horns, which is fine to an extent (Lambchop do that thing nicely), but what’s that slightly dodgy sax solo coming in near the end? The jury’s still out on this one. I’m hoping that any ‘departure’ in his sound is going to be a good thing. He doesn’t seem to have his mates The Earlies on production duties here. Anyway, you can make your own mind up – here’s Jackeyed. And Stand in Your Way from ‘…the Gospel of Progress’.

Download: Micah P Hinson – Jackeyed
Download: Micah P Hinson – Stand in My Way

Buy The Gospel of Progress or The Baby and the Satellite

Monday, July 24, 2006

OK, just one more...

OK, I know my blog is in danger of having to be renamed The Daily Lily Allen, but allow me one further post on the girl who some journalists in this country unbelievably still refer to as 'Keith Allen's daughter' (thankfully the Americans and others overseas don't have this problem).

It's just to say that The Daily Growl was mentioned in the Observer's full-page review of Lily's gig at Bush Hall last week (see here for my review). In the corner there was a box with 'the bloggers' view', with blurbs from me and music like dirt. It's on the online version of their review as well (without the big photo)

And er, that's about it. Normal service will resume soon...

Friday, July 21, 2006

In a Field of their own?

The other week I bumped into an old friend I hadn’t seen in ages recently, and amongst other things, he raved about Fields, a band who had blown him away at a recent gig. Then oddly enough, a couple of days later, they popped up on my myspace with a friend request. Well, that was an interesting enough coincidence to get me to check them out.

Mind you, I don’t think I heard them properly. Their myspace site describes them as indie/ folk/ electro, which seems fair enough. But I think I must have just tuned into the ‘folk’ bit. I left them for a while. Then I noticed that they’re doing a residency at the shoegazing-revivalist club Sonic Cathedral at the Legion bar in Shoreditch. “That’s odd, I thought – they don’t sound like that kind of band”. So I listened again, and would you believe it, they are.

Check them out. Hark! – hear the waves of guitar noise. Hear the big keyboard sound (I guess that accounts for the ‘electro’ tag – there’s little other evidence of it). Hear the floaty, melodic vocals. So yeah, that seems right. But they’re more than shoegazing revivalists. It’s not all electric noise. They have some nice acoustic tunes too, and although these are officially demos, it would be a shame if the amps were cranked up on the ‘real’ versions.

Anyway, I think they’re pretty good, and easily one of the best bands who have ‘discovered’ me through myspace. I should be down at the Legion on 24 August to see what the Fields live experience is like. An added bonus is that they’re playing with the touted iLiKETRAiNS, who seem to be decent too (certainly headphonesex thinks so).

Download: Fields – Brittle Sticks
Download: Fields – Charming the Flames
Download: Fields – Skulls and Flesh and More

There are more free downloads on their myspace and even more on their download page. Go on – use up some more space on your iPod.

These perennial Pipettes posts

Another week, another Pipettes post. Forgive me, but despite my radio-session-post last week, I do feel the need to do another on the girls in dots. There is the small matter of their new album – We Are the Pipettes – out in the UK this week. Needless to say I have it now, and yes, it's as good as I'd hoped. I always thought that they were more than a cleverly constructed novelty act. Now, they clearly are a cleverly constructed novelty act, but it's not one that's been constructed by some major record label/media conglomerate, and they have some great tunes too.

Everyone who trawls the music blogs will by now be well familiar with the concept – their do-wop pop harmonies, and big knowing nods back to Spector and classic girl-groups, the ubiquitous polka dot dresses and twee dance moves. But at least for one album it's all good.

At 14 tracks, I thought the album might run out of steam and get a bit samey. But somehow it contrives to stay perky and attention-grabbing, from the oddball self-declaration of the title track right through the gorgeous last track I Love You. With lyrics about school bullies, dancing, one night stands, and the joys and pains of love, there's nothing really profound here, but it's helped, bubbling along, by an enormous sense of fun. And sometimes fun is good. It is the summer after all. Maybe in the dead of winter they'll be redundant, but for now, the CD is tossed high onto the 'summer soundtrack' pile.

As expected, that sense of fun there in spades live. I caught them at an instore show at HMV on Oxford Street on Monday, to launch the new album. It really is a rubbish place for a gig. At least at Virgin they move the CD racks back to create some kind of normal standing space. At HMV people stand in long lines away from the stage, between CD racks, trying too see round pillars and store signs. But despite the surroundings, the Pipettes and their indie-boy backing band The Cassettes (all in matching initialed yellow tank tops) did their sparky pop thing for half an hour or so, and it was a fine taster for the Pipettes live experience. Now I'm really looking forward to seeing them at the Ben & Jerry's festival next weekend. Did I mention it was fun?

Download: The Pipettes - It Hurts To See You Dance So Well
Download: The Pipettes - I Love You

Buy We Are The Pipettes

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Lily Allen @ Bush Hall - 18 July 2006

Bush Hall is probably the furthest London venue from my house, but it’s not really that difficult to get to. Just sit on the Central Line for half an hour or so, then walk for 5-10 minutes and you’re there. As one of my favourite London venues, it’s usually worth the trip. Especially tonight. You can imagine just how high I jumped at the chance to snap up a spare ticket offered to me by Neil from Music Like Dirt (thanks!). Then I happily sweated out the 40C or so heat in the tube to get to the sweaty little venue. This gig sold out ages before Lily became the queen of the pop charts (as well as queen of the blogs).

It was as great as I hoped for. She’s doesn't seem to be the bratty kid the UK tabloids are painting her out to be. She’s sweet and giggly, and obviously delighted to be here. Especially here – the West London gal tells us she grew up on the street round the corner, so it’s a homecoming of sorts. Then the ska-pop intro to LDN strikes up and she launches into her set.

There's just so much to enjoy. The band knocking out some great horn-led ska-pop (and nicely reproducing the album’s clever samples live). Lily’s sweet vocals and cute glottal stops. Her spangly dress and dodgy earrings. Her doing all the parts to Can't Knock 'Em Out (including the lechy bloke). Her dedication of Friday Night to her sister "Who likes a drink or two" and who’s down the front clearly loving it. Inevitably she dedicated Alfie to her brother who may or may not have been there.

The fans were up for it too – a real mix of indie kids, hipsters, pop kids, 'normal people', family members, and a few teenage "superfans" (as Lily called them) down the front screaming away. The vibe was good. Heck, people were even dancing, and singing along. This isn’t meant to happen in London! I even deigned to move a little. Being right in front of Bush Hall's new enlarged speaker stack may have helped.

The set is short and sweet. She plays pretty much the whole of her new album Alright, Still, plus Nan, You’re a Window Shopper (her take on the 50 Cent track), and a cover of the Oh My God, which was is right on the button – who’d have thought that I’d be happily grooving to a Kaiser Chiefs song? Strange happenings indeed. The gig seems to make everyone happy. It’s a hot gig in more ways than one. Now that she's a bone fide star, we may not see her at a venue this size for a long time.

Download time: I’m going to upload some tracks for your listening pleasure, though I’m aware that there are some heavies in the US (RIAA) who have asked me to take down a couple of tracks before. The email was in strange legalese and made no sense at all – one of the tracks in question was live radio session which is not commercially available anywhere. Anyway, here are a couple more that aren’t commercially available. If you’re reading this and want me to take it down, please say so (in plain English) and I will.

You can buy Alright Still now too! You know the songs already, but go get it!

Download: Lily Allen - Nan, You’re a Window Shopper
Download: Lily Allen – Oh My God (Kaiser Chiefs cover)

I've got a few pics on my Flickr stream here. Music Like Dirt has got some pics that are way better. And a post which has some nifty links.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Farewell, Man in Black

I've been waiting for this album for a couple of years at least, and then all of a sudden, out it pops, reviewed and released and in the shops before I had time to take a breath and utter “is this really the long-promised Johnny Cash album of songs recorded after June Carter died?”

Maybe it's due to the ubiquity of Cash this year. I mean, we've not only had Walk the Line, but the accompanying TV programmes and the seeming hundreds of tie-in (or should that be Cash-in?) compilations that have flooded the market. It would be a shame if this was seem by people as just another one of these. It's not. It's the definitive last statement from one of America's greatest ever singer songwriters.

And what a statement. I had feared that it would be a lazily assembled collection of pieced-together recordings, but no. It's beautiful, brilliant and elegiac. What? Well, that's how a friend described it the other day. I've since looked it up and this is what it means:

Elegiac: “Of, relating to, or involving elegy or mourning or expressing sorrow for that which is irrecoverably past” (

Well, that's about right, isn't it? After all, this is an album infused with sadness. The songs that Cash and Rick Rubin selected (most of which weren't his own) throughout the American Recordings series were all so appropriate for him, and these are no exception. None of these songs were written for a man in his position, but, given his circumstances they take on a new meaning – the "heartaches and pain" of Legend in My Time, the "good times are gone" of Four Strong Winds, and the helpless prayers to God that are Help Me and Came to Believe.

Rose of My Heart – unambiguous in who Cash could be singing about – seems, given the circumstances, desperately sad as we imagine Johnny sitting in the studio, singing about his dear, departed wife. And despite his claim that “it should be while till I see Doctor Death” (on Like the 309) he also didn't have much longer to go till be went to join his beloved.

But there's also hope. Further on Up the Road seems to suggest that he's looking forward to meeting June "one sunny morning", Love's Been Good To Me is a bittersweet homecoming, and Free From the Chain Gang Now – well, you can see what that might mean. I know care has gone into selecting the tracklisting for this album, so even though it's no accident, it still a wonderfully appropriate final song.

Now can I make a plea? No more raking around in studio out-takes and alternative versions to release a money-spinning American VI. The American series stands a collective masterwork, that no artist in the twilight of their career will likely ever equal. And American V is the perfect way to end it. Let's keep it that way.

Download: Johnny Cash - Help Me
Download: Johnny Cash - Love's Been Good to Me
Download: Johnny Cash - Rose of My Heart

Buy American V from Amazon.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Sufjan sells out

Well, that was quick! The news that Sufjan Stevens is playing at the Barbican on 3 November has been around since the start of the week, but the tickets only went on sale on Thursday afternoon (probably just after I was told that I could get them 'later in the week'). By the time I got round to calling on Friday lunchtime, there were only balcony tickets left (that's waay up). And by the time everyone I know had got their tickets bought there were 5 left!

Selling out a 2000-capacity venue so quickly obviously means rising stardom for Sufjan in the UK, but it means binoculars for us if we're to see much. Still, it's the Barbican so the sound will be good. According to Pitchfork, he'll be accompanied by '"a small string ensemble (ranging from four to eight members in different cities) and brass section" in order to perform his songs "in a new symphonic context", which sounds a bit like what he did at the King's College show last year. Here's hoping it's not just the same concert, at a greater distance. The promise of new songs is tantilising.

So, I'll console myself with The Avalanche, which I got the other day. For an album of so-called offcuts, it's pretty damn fine. Obviously not as good as Illinoise, but not many albums from the past decade are, so that's hardly a criticism. Here's some of my current favourites from Sufjans 'shameless compilation' (his words, not mine).

Download: Sufjan Stevens - The Mistress Witch From McClure (or, The Mind That Knows Itself)
Download: Sufjan Stevens - Pittsfield
Download: Sufjan Stevens - Adlai Stevenson

Buy The Avalanche from Amazon

Friday, July 14, 2006

They've got no regrets (but they have got polka dots)

Excitement is mounting in the Growl house in anticipation of the release on Monday of the debut album from Brighton's finest indie girl group - The Pipettes! And even better, after not getting round to see them live for so long, there are two chances for me to see them for (almost) free. First is Monday at 6pm at an instore launch at HMV on Oxford Street, and next is at the Ben and Jerry's mini-festival on Clapham Common on 28 July (for a mere fiver!). Looking forward to some polka-dotted fun.

In advance of what's shaping up to be a fine album, here are some tracks that they recorded for Rob Da Bank's Blue Room show on Radio 1 last weekend.

Download: The Pipettes - We Are The Pipettes (live on Radio 1)
Download: The Pipettes - Judy (live on Radio 1)
Download: The Pipettes - Pull Shapes (live on Radio 1)
Download: The Pipettes - Tell Me What You Want (live on Radio 1)

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Today, I’m opting for Plan B

I’m surprised Plan B hasn’t been across the blogs more than he has. Sure, his lyrics are distinctly British and his accent totally London, which could limit his international appeal, but then again the same is true of Lily Allen and she’s the queen of blogland. Not sure what it is, but I thought his white-rapper-with-acoustic-guitar schtick would have generated more interest. He does the whole urban squalour 'n' violence thing, but you get the impression that his claims to be 'real' are a wee bit more believable than other rappers. After all, can you imagine 50 Cent cutting a track about depression?

I’ve not got the East London boy’s new album Who Needs Actions When You Got Words, but what I’ve heard I quite like. The other week he dropped into Xfm to chat with John Kennedy about the album. The only problem was that it was the day of the release of said record, and he had been out on the lash all day celebrating. So it was an inebriated Ben Drew (for that is his name) that sat in the Xposure studio, trying to get his shit together in order to do a sensible interview and perform a couple of songs.

It definitely improved as time went on. At the start he was a bit flaky, reading out an almost inconceivably long text from his mate who had just got thrown out of rehab, and then managing to get through a version of Everyday (the aforementioned 'depression' track), which he drunkenly reworked to pay tribute to his troubled friend. But then, maybe the coffee kicked in, and by the time he came to perform his new single Mama (Loves a Crackhead) he was on top form. He can sing as well as rap y’know. And given that voice he could be in a boyband (if he dropped the swearing and the glottal stops). But maybe the popworld’s loss is our gain.

Download: Plan B - Everyday (live Xfm acoustic version)
Download: Plan B - Mama (Loves a Crackhead) (live Xfm acoustic version)

Buy Who Needs Actions When You Got Words from Amazon.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Belated Half-Year Review

Just as I was early with my best of June, so I'm a wee bit late with my half-year review. Oh well, I've been on holiday, so I've got an excuse. This is the ideal way to ease my way back into music blogging. I've not got much time, so no detailed comment - just lists of tunes 'n' stuff. Roughly in order of merit. Which of these will be there are the end of the year? Enjoy.

Songs of the year so far

1. Camera Obscura – Lloyd, I'm Ready to Be Heartbroken

2. Primal Scream – Country Girl

3. Lily Allen – LDN

4. Gnarls Barkley – Crazy

5. Hot Chip – And I Was a Boy From School

6. The Pipettes – Judy

7. M Craft – You Are The Music

8. Flaming Lips – Yeah Yeah Yeah Song

9. The Raconteurs – Steady as She Goes

10. The Knife – Marble House

Albums of the year so far

1. Hot Chip – The Warning

Download: And I Was A Boy From School

2. Camera Obscura – Let's Get Out of This Country

Download: False Contender

3. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Show Your Bones

Download: Cheated Hearts

4. Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins – Rabbit Fur Coat

Download: Born Secular

5. Mogwai – Mr Beast

Download: Glasgow Mega-Snake

Gigs of the year so far

1. Tilly and the Wall / Emmy the Great @ Buffalo Bar (19 Feb)

2. Richard Hawley / Micah P Hinson @ Shepherd's Bush Empire (18 May)

3. TV on the Radio / Celebration @ ULU (15 May)

4. Calexico @ The 100 Club (5 April)

5. Be Your Own Pet/ Rogers Sisters @ ULU (21 April)

Monday, July 10, 2006

Back from hols

Ah, it's nice to be back in blogland after my sojourn in Cornwall and happily cutting myself off from the outside world (well, from the internet world anyway).

The holiday got off to a great start - hot sunny day, lovely cottage, England getting knocked out of the World Cup. But then the weather conspired to prove that Cornwall was not the sunny place we hoped it would be. All in though, a fine relaxing time.

Some highlights and lowlights. Firstly, things that were good:

The lovely seculded country backwater where the cottage we rented was. And just generally, the quiet country backroads, all only wide enough for one car where you can zip around, with just that whiff of danger where a car may come round that next corner a wee bit too fast.

The beaches are generally pretty fine, especially if you stray away from the main surfing ones. There are good ones on the south coast as well, with nary a wetsuit or surfboard in sight.

Padstow is a lovely little town, and probably the best we visited. Celebrity chef Rick Stein has kinda taken over the town with his food empire, but that's excusable. Particularly when the food his joints serve up is so good. Special mention as well to the 'Krazy Golf'. Heck, these dudes are so crazy, they don't even care about spelling!

Tate St. Ives. Well, it's not amazing, but after being a Tate member for a couple of years, I finally made it there.

The bad:

Did I mention the weather? It did rain every day. Not all the time, but enough to be annoying. Oh well, if you want good weather, you don't stay in the UK!

Seagulls. If you're a London pigeon-hater (like I am), these beasties take it to another level. Even more fearless, a lot bigger, and there's always the chance that one might turn agressive. Vermin with wings.

Driving. It was pretty much essential to have a car in Cornwall, so we duly hired one in Exeter. However, a combination of interminable traffic jams there and back, the wince-inducing parking charges, and just generally feeling that we were eating way too much food for the amount of walking we were doing, made me unusually glad to step onto the tube again at Waterloo.

And finally, the ugly:

That has to go to Newquay. It's an odd place, to put it nicely. Seemingly populated by Antipodean surf bums, wannabe surfers and chavs on the lash. There's very little in the way of mixed-gender groups, just packs of each, probably on the prowl. And often with the bizarre feature of all wearing identical tops with their names and a number on the back. What's that about? Anyway, unless you're a surf nut, stay well away...

Well, that'll do. I've managed to get a few photos on my Flickr, with a few more to come. Back to music tomorrow.