Posted in Blogs

365 Days of Music

I’ve recently been posting a song every day on Tumblr. I’m, as usual, hoping to introduce people to music I love, both new and old, but mostly it’s a kind of musical diary. I hope to be able to look back in years to come and see exactly what I was listening to in years past (although whether I will actually do so is a different matter). It would have been fascinating, to me at least, if I’d been doing this for longer. I’d be able to look back at my pop-punk phase, my ska-revival phase, my (mercifully brief) nu-metal phase, my psychedelic trance phase, and plenty more years of changing musical tastes besides.

Anyhow, I’ve reached 365 days of this project, a whole year’s worth of music so I thought I would choose one of my all time favourite tracks for today, the beautiful, melancholy, ‘Sad, Sad, Feet’ by Cate Le Bon. If you have any interest, please do follow the Tumblr here, and the Spotify playlist below:


Posted in Monthly Highlights

September Highlights

I thought I’d start doing a monthly round-up of the best bits of the blog, for those of you who, understandably  don’t have time to read every single thing I write. So here are September’s highlights:


Posted in Albums I Love

Albums I love : Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree

I’ve never been that close to the music of Nick Cave in the past. It may partly to do with my first exposure to his music being his duet with Kylie Minogue from his ‘Murder Ballads’ album, which is perhaps not the perfect place to begin. My next exposure to his work came with Mark and Lard’s parodies of two his songs on their Radio 1 show, and this, unfairly, established Cave in my mind as an overly po-faced, serious man, there to be taken the mickey out of.

Over the years, I heard plenty of his songs that I liked, and a few I wasn’t so keen on, but I never really made that emotional connection with his music that causes me to truly fall in love with an artist. In 2010 I moved to Brighton, where Cave also resides (Hove, actually). Cave had been hugely critically acclaimed, especially in more recent years, to the point where he almost seemed above criticism. I’m sure this was never entirely the case, but it seemed especially true in Brighton and Hove, where he was seen as a local hero in his adopted city, and the contrarian in me wanted to proclaim him as overrated, although the knowledge I did actually enjoy many of his songs (and not wanting to be a douchebag) usually  stopped me from doing so.

In July 2015, some time after I had left Brighton and started a family of my own, Cave’s 15 year old son Arthur, fell from a cliff and died. I felt for Cave and his family of course, and shuddered at the thought that I had walked along the underpass where Arthur had fallen many times myself, but the tragedy only briefly flickered across my consciousness, as other peoples tragedies are wont to do. I was no doubt too mired in my own minor trials and tribulations, to think much about what had happened to the Cave family.

Then, just a couple of weeks ago, came ‘Skeleton Tree’, Nick Cave’s first album since the loss of his son. It wouldn’t be true to claim the album is about that event, as most of the lyrics were written before it occured , even if many are eerily prescient (“You fell from the sky” is the first line of the album for example. However, the accompanying film to the album ‘One More Time With Feeling’ made clear the effect the loss had on the recording of the album, and even had it not, if you are aware of Cave’s, it’s impossible to separate the album from that event. Cave’s voice, usually a powerful, menacing thing is fragile, almost broken at times, and the structure of the album seems to mimic the journey of loss. Opener ‘Jesus Alone’ has an angry, raging quality, ‘Girl in Amber’ is plaintive and yearning. ‘I Need You’, is the sound of knowing but not accepting, a lost love, a broken heart. Closing track ‘Skeleton Tree’ has a dreamlike quality, and is as close as such an album can get to hope, an acknowledgment at least, that somehow things must continue.

Some has said, critically or otherwise, that the album has an unfinished feel, but to me it is a masterpiece of arrangement. Instrumentation which was too dense or loud, could have overwhelmed Cave’s voice and lyrics, which are as good as any he has ever written. Allegorical at times, at others almost painfully direct. On ‘Ring of Saturn’ words almost tumbling over each other, on ‘Distant Sky’ each phrase drawn out, given time to breathe, including perhaps the most powerful line on the album “they told us our gods would forgive us, but they lied”. Cave’s long term collaborator Warren Ellis, adds perfect, subtle instrumentation to these songs, minimal pianos, gently pulsing electronics, touches of strings, occasional but expertly used backing vocals. The boldest, most successful choice on the album is the use of female soprano Else Torp to duet with Cave on the aforementioned ‘Distant Sky’.

‘Skeleton Tree’ is a deeply, deeply beautiful album, my favourite of the year, and perhaps the decade. No other album has made me want to listen to it repeatedly this way for a long time. But part of me never wants to listen to it again, and wonders why it appeals at all. For i’m not sure I could claim to have enjoyed this album. It moves me, close to tears. It compels me to listen, almost overwhelms me at times. But how can I enjoy the aftermath of such a tragedy? It feels voyeuristic, even ghoulish sometimes, to listen to these songs

Of course it is a question as old as music itself, why do we want listen to sad songs? Even my two year old daughter will sometimes ask to hear a sad song, and ask what it’s about. It’s not a question I can hope to answer, but for me I think has something to do with the need to understand, to share, to empathise with every aspect of the human condition. We can never truly understand an event such as this of course, even those of us who have experienced something similar, for every tragedy is tragic in its’ own unique way. Cave comes closer than anyone else could to making you understand, and makes me feel that, if the world throws the worst that it can at me, there will be someone out there who understands me.

When you listen to a song about an unrequited love, a broken heart, you know that some day the heart will mend. When you think of the loss of a child, you don’t know that it ever will. No music, no art, no matter how beautiful, can ever lessen a tragedy such as the one Nick Cave and his family have experienced. I can only hope that, one way or another, they can find some form of peace.


Posted in Blog

Blog – Go home and be a family man

I was away from home this weekend, catching up with some old friends (and seeing a live show by a rap legend). Before the trip I realised it would be the first night I had spent away from my daughter in her two and a half years on the planet. Actually, that’s not strictly true. The first night after she was born I spent at home alone, as partners were not allowed to stay overnight in the ward in the hospital, which made for one of the lonelier nights of my life. Every night since though, we’ve been either at home together or away together.

I didn’t make a conscious decision not to go away alone for so long, it just never happened until now. Time and money have been scarce these last few years, so there haven’t been many opportunities for weekends away for any of us (not that I would expect my daughter to be gallivanting off by herself quite yet). I felt weirdly guilty in advance of the trip. Not sure why, as logically I knew it wasn’t a big deal for me to take a rare trip away. I also know logically my wife is perfectly able to cope for a couple of days without me, and that my daughter might miss me, but would hardly be distraught. Since I became a father though, logic and feelings rarely align.

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Posted in Gigs

Gig Review : KRS One – MK11

This was a gig that I only attended because I happened to be visiting a friend in Milton Keynes this weekend, and we were so surprised to find some half decent live music on in the city that it felt rude not to attend. Despite KRS One’s legendary status, I’m not actually that familiar with his work, and my experience of attending hip-hop shows has been mixed at best, so my hopes were not especially high. Arriving at the venue, a barn in the middle of nowhere on the outskirts of Milton Keynes, which had been converted into a sports bar/live music venue, even less so. It seemed a particularly incongruous place to find a legend of hip-hop.

Continue reading “Gig Review : KRS One – MK11”

Posted in Blog

Blog – The anger of dads of daughters

There’s an online dads group I’m part of. The guys in the group are, in the main, a pretty good bunch. Politically speaking they lean liberal, and regarding parenthood they tend towards the belief that dads should be just as involved as mums (and there are quite a few stay-at-home dads in the group). There’s the odd bit of grumbling about wives and partners, but rarely do I come across the kind of misogyny and misanthropy that is so rampant in other corners of the internet.

So it was a bit of a shock to read a post from another dad, whose 8 year old daughter had been bullied at a sleepover, describing the bullies as “slack c*nted mongoloids”. Now, I don’t think of myself as particularly prudish (although I do swear less than I used to since becoming a dad), but this took me aback. Quite apart from the fact that I would expect anybody over school age (or Ricky Gervais) to have grown out of the use of the word mongoloid as an insult, the use of slack c*nted to describe a group of 8 year old girls, regardless of what they’d done, is pretty breathtaking. I’m no longer a fan of the c-word, given its’ often misogynistic overtone, but i don’t inherently object to its’ use. To aim such a hateful, sexual phrase as ‘slack-c*nted’ at children though seems to me pretty vile.

Continue reading “Blog – The anger of dads of daughters”

Posted in Blogs

Blog : On the closure of Fabric

I only went to Fabric once, way back in 1999, on the second night it was open in fact. I had a great night, as far as I can recall 17 years on, but never ended up going back again. London was a long way from Manchester for a night out, and I didn’t have any friends living in the capital during my clubbing prime, so the opportunity never really arose. By all accounts though, it was one of the best, if not the best, club in London. Certainly, I was impressed when reading the line-ups advertised by Fabric, in the back of Mixmag or Jockey Slut, and they put out a fantastic series of mix CDs, some of my favourites of all time, mixed by  everyone from John Peel to Four Tet to Diplo.

But all this largely beside the point, even if I had never been to Fabric, or hated the music that they played, the decision to close it would still be monumentally stupid and short-sighted. Of course the death of 2 people in Fabric after taking ecstasy is a tragedy, but to think the closure of one nightclub is going to stop people taking drugs is ridiculous. If you close one nightclub, people will go to another one. If you close all the nightclubs people will take drugs in bars, or at house parties, or illegal raves or any of the other hundreds of places that people take drugs. More knowledgable people than me have pointed out that the closure of Fabric will actually lead to more drug users coming to harm, as they move to less regulated environments.

The authorities who revoked Fabric’s license claimed that it didn’t do enough to prevent drug use, including insufficient searches. Not only is that disputed by most people who ever attended the venue, the fact remains that people can hide drugs in places that nightclub bouncers are not allowed to search, so it’s impossible for any venue to entirely prevent drugs getting in. And once they’re inside, unless you’re watching every single clubber at every single moment, you’re not going to stop them being taken. If Fabric can be closed on this basis, so can any nightclub, and we can kiss goodbye to London’s clubbing scene. London should be developing and promoting its’ nightlife, as another way of attracting visitors and creating an image of a vibrant, modern city. Berlin promotes its’ techno clubs even on its’ touristy souvenirs (see my place mat below), but London seems to have chosen a different direction.

Many have put the case for why the decision to close Fabric was such a bad one, none more eloquently than co-founder Cameron Leslie, in his full speech to Islington Council, but why does it mean so much to me? I only just wrote about how clubbing is not really part of my life anymore, and most likely I would never have attended Fabric again, even if it had remained open. Given everything else that has happened in the UK this year, it might not seem a big deal, but it’s just another small step on our road to becoming a bland, joyless, unwelcoming land. Almost every club I enjoyed when I was younger has been turned into a Tesco Express or luxury flats. It may seem a weird thing to wish for as a parent, but I want my daughter to have the opportunity to go clubbing when she grows up, should she wish to. I want her life to be full of joy and I had a lot of good times in those places. I don’t want her to grow up in a country where they barely exist.

This also seems like an attack on electronic music itself. I’m old enough to remember, if not actually have experienced, the Criminal Justice Bill of 1994 which was ostensibly focused on closing illegal raves, but with its’ specific attacks on music with repetitive beats, was really an attempt to criminalise and destroy dance music culture altogether. Now, again under a Conservative government, those attitudes seem to be returning (witness the ridiculous attempts by the Fabric review board to claim that music with a higher BPM led to an increase in drug use). Well, they may have closed down the illegal raves and driven dance music into nightclubs in the 1990s, and they may well be trying to drive it out of the nightclubs in the 2010s, but it will always find somewhere else to go. For a long, long way back in human history people have congregated, taken mind altering substances, and danced. No matter what happens they will find a place to continue to do so. I’m just sad to know that Fabric will no longer be one of those places.

Posted in Interviews

Interview – audiodeluxe

One of the best things about writing this blog has been discovering bands I may never have discovered without it. My latest favourites are audiodeluxe, a husband/wife duo from near Glasgow who have been making music together since the 1990s, but are a new discovery to me.

Dez and Sammy were kind enough to answer my questions on music and parenthood, and I  always find it very inspiring to find a band who are making music just for the love of making music.

Before you read on, why not check out their video for ‘Treasure’ below, listen to some more of their music on Soundcloud, and head over to Bandcamp and buy the 3 EPs they have available (EP3 is my personal favourite).

Were your parents music fans? What influence did they have on your own musical tastes?

  • Dez: The least said about the ‘music’ I was subjected to, the better!
  • Sammy: I grew up surrounded by music; my dad was a singer-songwriter and he was an avid listener to a huge range of genres. Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeplin and Donovan were staples in my house when I was growing up. As children, my brother and I produced our own little songs that my mum would encourage us to perform. My brother and sister’s musical talent was encouraged by both parents and they are now accomplished artists; my brother makes an excellent living from performing and producing and my sister is a wonderful singer-songwriter.


Did you play any instruments as a kid, or if not, when did you start playing music?

  • Dez: I started playing guitar when I was around fifteen/sixteen – the day after seeing the Manic Street Preachers play [mime] ‘You love us’ on Top of the Pops. I bought a Les Paul copy for £10 from a guy at school. All the other instruments I play followed on from the guitar over time.
  • Sammy: I played the recorder in primary school and I was pretty adept at the ‘Eastenders’ theme tune! I also had a go at keyboard and drums when I was at high school but quite honestly, the discipline required to stick at any instrument alluded me. I knew I had quite a good voice and it was easy for me to use it so that’s where it all started for me.


You have been writing and performing as audiodeluxe since the late 1990s. Were you in any other bands before that?

  • Dez: No, just jamming with friends while learning to play the guitar.
  • Sammy: Not unless you include the stuff my brother and I did. It’s the stuff of legend in our family but (perhaps wisely) will never see the light of day.


You were signed to an early internet record label, PeopleSound, back in 2001. Can you tell us a little about that experience?

  • Dez: Peoplesound was supposed to be the future model for record labels. They were more like a distributor with an A&R department; you sent them your finished Album/EP and they decided whether it suited their label. Our work did suit and they used the CD we produced as a master. It was reproduced with all the artwork and promoted on their site and to various radio stations around the world – and they took a percentage of the sales. It was a good deal until Sony (if I remember correctly) bought them and pretty much shut them down.
  • Sammy: Yeah, I thought that it was a good idea at the time as it suited us to make music as and when we wanted. I got a kick out of seeing our CD for sale.


Have you been writing/recording/performing as audiodeluxe pretty consistently since then, or have there been periods of inactivity? If so, why?

  • Dez: We’ve been consistent in our own way as this was never meant to be a career for us. We write songs and play gigs at our leisure and up until our children were born I was in our home studio most nights playing the guitar or making sounds/samples. I would then call Sammy to hear what I’d came up with to see if they inspired her to write lyrics and turn my tunes into proper songs.
  • Sammy: Oh, l’m busy with the business of life and the music doesn’t get my full attention unless Dez lures me into the studio with one of his amazing new creations!


You’re a husband and wife duo. How do you feel a creative partnership with your spouse differs from a creative partnership with anyone else?

  • Dez: Neither of us has been in a band with anyone else so it’s a hard question to answer. We’ve been together a long time and have similar influences when it comes to music but there’s also enough differing musical tastes to create a bit of friction – which is good because we’re not fans of overly happy music.
  • Sammy: We were creative partners long before we were married so I don’t necessarily think that’s a massive thing to consider. That said, I honestly couldn’t work with someone on something as important as this unless they totally ‘got me’. We argue a lot about the music and I think you can hear that spark when we perform.


How many children do you have, and what ages are they?

  • Dez: We have two: our eldest is three and a half and our youngest is five months.
  • Sammy: Yep, we have two little babies so it’s not always easy to find the time for making music. That said, I am always singing and making up little songs for the children. Our eldest is sometimes like, “Mummy, stop singing pleeease”.


Do you find it hard to find the time to devote to your music since becoming parents?

  • Dez: Having a five month old means there’s pretty much no time for music at the moment; a situation I was shocked at with our first as it felt like it would never end. But second time round, I realise it’s a brief but all-consuming time that you should just settle into and try to enjoy.
  • Sammy: Haha, wise words there from Dez! I am going to be a bit hippy here and say that because you give your ‘all’ to your children, it can be quite difficult to have the spiritual and emotional energy to be creative. That and wading your way through baby sick and nappies can hamper one’s artistic tendencies sadly.


Do you feel like the music you make has been influenced at all by becoming parents?

  • Dez: Again, I’m not sure. I’m a bit of a musical magpie at the best of times; I’m always listening to music and collecting the ideas I hear and like. If you hear a xylophone (Baby TV’s instrument of choice) crop up in a one of our songs in the near future you’ll know the answer is ‘yes’.
  • Sammy: Yeah, but every experience shapes you, doesn’t it? Having the children means that you see the world differently so maybe our music will be less egocentric in future.


You’ve recently gone down the route of releasing your music through Bandcamp and promoting it via blogs and fanzines, what made you decide on that approach?

  • Dez: This approach suits us as we can do it at our own pace; we can upload tracks and release EPs as and when we finish them and hopefully this gets our music to the ears of the largest audience possible. Also, since taking this route we’ve found that there’s a lot of music lovers running stations and blogs in the same manner we make music – doing it because they enjoy it and not because it’s a job. Dealing with people like that has been far more pleasant than some of or past experiences.
  • Sammy: It gives us a chance to share our stuff with like-minded people. We are not interested in being famous or (gasp!) making money from what we do. Instead, we see it as a life project and a legacy to leave for those who come after us. We are the antidote to the ‘X Factor’ generation.


Beyond the three (excellent!) EPs you currently have available on Bandcamp, do you have more ready for release?

  • Dez: We don’t have anything finished at the moment but I do have the majority of two, possibly three, future audiodeluxe tunes waiting for Sammy to write lyrics for.
  • Sammy: I am very prolific when I want to be; I just have other priorities at the moment. Music is there for me and not the other way around. I think that a lot of other people would benefit from that mindset to be honest.


What else does the future hold for audiodeluxe?

  • Dez: Hopefully, a few gigs to play the songs from our new EP and see how they fair live.
  • Sammy: World domination from the comfort of our sofa.😉


My thanks to Dez and Sammy for sparing the time to answer my questions, hope you enjoy their music as much as I do!


Posted in Songs I Love

Songs I Love : Factory Floor – Ya

Typically, soon after I write a piece about how I no longer go out dancing to techno, I hear a song that I would absolutely love to hear on the dancefloor.

Whilst not exactly a techno track, it’s got that minimal slow-burning quality which a lot of the great early in the night techno records share. In fact it reminds me of nothing more than a DFA remix from a decade or so ago, and it’s no surprise to find that Factory Floor are a DFA signing.

Now to find out whether the rest of the album is as good.