Albums

Truth is a beautiful thing by London Grammar

London Grammar’s latest album, ‘Truth is a beautiful thing’ is an absolutely stunning journey of emotion and sweeping scores. I enjoyed their debut too, but this album has just completely got its hooks in me.

Hannah Reid’s voice is simply stunning as she powers through the songs, at times with an air of Florence Welch to her. That, along with the atmospheric music behind her, cause me to almost lose track of time when I’m listening. Sometimes it seems like so much time has passed when in fact only two or three songs have.

The song that hooked me definitely has to be ‘Hell to the liars’. Words can’t describe it’s beauty and the affect it continues to have on me as I keep replaying it. I’ll link a video below as well as a link to buy the album.

London Grammar have quickly become one of my favourite bands in recent days and have been added to my current list of obsessions.

Buy ‘Truth is a beautiful thing’.

E.Ps

3 E.P. by Scarlett Taylor

One of my favourite meloncholic artists, Scarlett Taylor, is back with her latest E.P. ‘3’.

All of her previous releases have been great. So my biggest fear with writing about this one was that I would end up repeating myself.

You see, if Scarlett had released similar songs to her previous album, ‘Churches’, although I’d have been perfectly content, I’d have nothing new to say. Luckily for me, she has tried new things with this E.P. which not only expands the variety in her music, but also gives me new ways of discussing it.

In ‘3’ she has gone down a darker path – even occasionally dipping into some more electronic styles. These new ideas of hers don’t create a completely new sound for her, instead they allow her to take her signature style and enrich it even further.

Anybody familiar with her music will know it’s not the most light-hearted of sounds, and with her experimentation on this E.P. she has given herself fresh ways of exploring the darkness.

Her experimentation has allowed her to bring fresh dimensions to her music, further imprinting herself into the very soundwaves she creates.

Uncategorised

I’m too much of a consumer

We as people are consumers. Whether that be basic necessities, extra items of comfort, or the never-ending barage of information from media and any social networks you may be a part of.

I’ve come to the realisation that I am, just like everyone else, too much of a consumer and not enough of a creator.

I want to be more of a creator.

Whether that means drawing, painting, writing or something else I dont know, but I’ll just go with any ideas as they come.

That’s not to say I’ll stop consuming completely; eating is a necessity after all, but I think I’m going to close all of my social network accounts and cut down on TV I watch. I think it’s important to still absorb art whether that be paintings, TV, film, music – but just TV for TV sake, no. Also with social media I think it’s just a huge time sink. I don’t even want to know how much of my life I’ve spent so far refreshing Twitter’s home page.

What a waste.

That is sort of what this site is for too: a place for me to write any thoughts, feelings and ideas through life without any pressure to fit within a particular topic.

Interviews

Interview with Du Blonde

Beth Jeans Houghton goes by the alias “Du Blonde” and is not only an awesome musician, but also works in photography; comic books and illustrations. I had the opportunity to ask her a bunch of questions about herself which she has kindly answered for us here.

She was super fast in answering these questions, however, I have taken a long time getting them published as this site has been going through reshuffles. So at last here it is – my interview with Du Blonde.

Interview with Du Blonde

Please tell us about yourself in as many or as little words as you like.
I’m a musician and artist from Newcastle. I make records, comics, videos and sculptures.
Growing up, who were your heroes in music?
When I was a kid I was really into 60’s pop and soul, then I moved onto glam rock, psych and garage. But always the standards like Neil Young, Bowie, The Mamas & the Papas. I went through a big ‘Love’ phase, especially their records Forever Changes and Da Capo, and also Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart. But really if you could see what I listen to day to day it varies from ‘Poison’ by Alice Cooper to William Basinski’s ‘Disintegration Loops’.
Growing up, who were your heroes outside of music?
I had a mad crush on Michael Palin when I was 6. I think the people who inspired me were the ones who seemed to be relentlessly doing what they love, travelling and creating worlds to live inside of. If I could anthropomorphise a whole company i’d say Disney. Those movies helped shape my imagination when I was a kid. They were enthralling and they made me think. Before I could understand it I was trying to figure out how they made those illustrations move. Then there was the musical aspect. ‘The Lion King’ for example introduced me to Elton John and Hans Zimmer, whereas ‘Fantasia’ introduced me to Bach and Stravinsky.
What was the first album you remember buying?
Britney Spears’ ‘Oops!… I did it again’ was the first record I bought with my own money from an HMV in Calgary. I was 10 years old, wearing a strappy mini dress and foam platform sandals. There were children playing in the streets in huge outdoor paddling pools and I thought it was just the best.
Was there any defining moment in your life when you knew that you wanted to write, record and perform music?
I think I was getting the urge a long time before my head caught up and I realised it was something I wanted to do. I went through a phase of trying to sing opera around the house when I was a kid which was awful. I used to make a lot of costumes and I had dreams of creating things but it wasn’t until I was about 15 that I realised I wanted to, and could, write music if I put my mind to it.
Who is your biggest influence in how you approach what you do today?
My mother taught me a lot about standing up for myself. She was always supportive of me pursuing what made me happy while at the same time giving me an understanding of how hard you have to work if that’s what you choose to do. She gave me the ability to dream and approach those dreams practically.
What is the proudest moment of your career so far?
The proudest i’ve felt is sitting in the back of a van with a group of people I love, travelling along a road, knowing that somehow I was blessed with a life in which I can do just that. The freedom to do what you love on your own terms is infinitely more valuable than any cheque or accolade, and I hope I can continue to do that for the rest of my life.
What is your favourite book?
‘Jonathan Livingston Seagull’ by Richard Bach, and Richard Brautigan’s ‘In Watermelon Sugar’.
What is your favourite album?
  • Joni Mitchell – Ladies of the Canyon
  • Frank Zappa – Over-nite sensation
  • Bruce Springsteen – Nebraska
  • fIREHOSE – Ragin’, Full on
  • Big Star – #1 Record
What is your favourite film?
  • True Romance
  • Paris, Texas
  • Badlands
  • koyaanisqatsi
  • The Royal Tenenbaums
What is your favourite TV show?
I binge-watched Stranger Things in one night and ate so many cashews that I had to ration my water so I wouldn’t have to leave my room and I was prepared to pee in a bottle. But also, The Wonder Years, Gilmore Girls and The Simpsons.
Do you have a favourite film/tv/musical soundtrack?
Grease is fucking great. But in terms of soundtracks, ‘Man on wire’ turned me on to Michael Nyman. I thought American Hustle had a really great soundtrack.
Are there any new albums you are binge listening to at the moment?
Well it isn’t an album but right now i’m listening to the audio book of Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography which is great. I have a few playlists I alternate between which include things like the Rolling Stones, Aphrodite’s Child, Karen Dalton, Rush and Simon & Garfunkel. When I’m stressed I listen to Peals’ record ‘Walking Field’.
You’re walking somewhere and your mp3 player has only a little battery left; You’’e only got time for one more song. What song do you play?
Right now it’s ‘Visions of your reality’ by Ultimate Spinach.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Don’t start smoking. Trust your instincts more and don’t back down when they’re being put into question. Don’t worry about the boys that don’t worry about you.
If you could ask any person – living or passed – any question, who would it be and what would you ask them?
If I could go back in time I’d ask my Grandma to teach me how to knit the socks she made.
Do you have any upcoming projects you’d like to mention?
I’m working on a new record right now which i’m excited about, I made it out in Oakland with some really great people and i’m playing more guitar and producing which is really freeing. I’m also putting together issue 2 of my comic book ‘Butt Hurt’ which includes a lot of vomit and a guy who tried to woo me by comparing me to a game of Jenga.
Could you tell us a joke?
I can tell you about the time I ate a prize-winning square Hula Hoop worth £100,000 in the dining hall of my primary school in 1996.

Thank you, Beth

A big thank you to Beth for taking the time out to answer these questions and giving us some insights into the lady behind the frickin’ awesome music.

Albums

Between hope and danger by Hante

Hante’s music is always a dark, dreamy escape that I am addicted to getting lost into. As soon as I learned of her new release, ‘Between Hope and Danger’, I immediately had to listen to it. From the get go it contained everything I love about her music – mystery-entrenched soundscapes of unapologetic synth. That and her haunting, echo chamber style vocals.

The opening, “Le Point de Non-Retour”, was a dark choice with a Gothic choir accompaniment and a buzzsaw-style style. Characteristic of a relatively new style of music I’ve discovered called “Witch House”.

“Lies // Light” sounds like she’s experimenting with a typical Synthwave / Outrun style, but still in keeping with her own aesthetic. At times this song has sounds that remind me of old-skool Sega MegaDrive games. This is only going to be a good thing.

To my ears, she is at her darkest during the song “Eternite”. A sweeping, eerie synth is met by a devil’s organ and married by her wistful voice.

In the titular song, “Between hope and danger”, I might be mad, but I can hear references to both John Carpenter – who is par for the course in modern electronic music – and Angelo Badalamenti. For those who aren’t familiar with Angelo, he is the man responsible for many of David Lynch’s film scores. “Between hope and Danger” had echoes for me back to his main theme for Mulholland Drive.

All in all this album is a terrific addition to an already impressive body of work.

P.S. If you’d like to get to know the lady behind this great music, you can read my interview with Hante.

Albums

Welcome Back To Milk by Du Blonde

Welcome back to milk by Du Blonde is fierce, bold and packs a huge punch in its 36 minutes. Du Blonde, real name Beth Jeans Houghton takes us to many different places in this album. I’m excited to introduce you to it.

From the very opening crunching guitar riff of ‘Black Flag’, this album will wake you from any slumber. There’s no half-assed listening to her music with one earbud in. This album demands your full attention and I think you’ll be giving it.

‘Chips to go’ keeps the energy high with her occasional screaming and the super catchy guitar riff. As does the frantic assault on the senses from the later song ‘Mr Hyde’.

As well as her high-energy post-punk style music, Du Blonde also slows things down beautifully in one of my favourite songs, ‘Four in the morning’. With just her voice and piano, she sings with a softness, sitting in contrast to the album’s more aggressive songs. It also leads perfectly into what is perhaps the most experimental song on the album, “Mind is on my mind”

‘Mind is on my mind’ is a song of distinct parts, all unique yet working in the most perfect harmony together. It also makes an excellent example of Beth’s musical sensibilities. The best way I can describe this one is by quoting Beth herself:

I was interested at the time in writing songs with no repeating sections, but rather a succession of acts. A couple of months later, Sam and I took a trip out to the desert and came back to LA to make some music. I played him the track and he got in the booth and ad-libbed his lyrics over the instrumentation. He was done in like one or two takes. When I was back in London I’d become obsessed with these Middle Eastern and Greek guitar scales and I added the lead guitar in the outro as a contrast to Sam’s vocals.

‘Isn’t it wild’ is the perfect closing song for this album, after having being dropped into the blistering ‘Black Flag’ opening. Gorgeous strings, piano and voice being given a vintage echo. Listening to this gave me thoughts of floating gently back out of the album from whence I dropped.

Welcome back to milk has absolutely zero skippable songs, with each one holding an air of experimentation to it. Every one of these songs has been lovingly hand-crafted and come together to make an album that is truly greater than the sum of its parts.

Journal

Faith in humanity restored

I write this post on just another commute into work. The journey in is almost always uneventful, albeit for the occasional train delays and cancellations. However, today was different and my faith in humanity, and what we can accomplish, has been restored – and all from one simple interaction with a stranger.

I pretty much always get a seat on my train due to where I get the train from – one of the only benefits to my journey. Today the train was particularly busy and some people needed to start standing. One of these people was a lady who I noticed had two heavy bags with her.

Out of an automatic response to this I offered her my seat. She replied, “Only if you’re sure?”. I stood up for her and she accepted with thanks. Now, I’m not telling you this to show how much of a gracious person I am. No. I tell you this because of what came next and how it made me feel.

So I stood up for her and she sat, put her bags down, and the train continued on its journey. A few more stops down the track some seats were freed up – I took the opportunity to sit down, where I then proceeded to zone out to Hante’s latest album – it’s great and you should take a listen. Anyway, I digress.

When the train later pulled up at a further stop many people got off. As the train emptied I felt a hand on my shoulder – the same lady was stood over me smiling and said to me, “Have a lovely day”.

I smiled, replied in kind, and she went off on her way.

This small interaction between two perfect strangers highlighted to me the difference that can be made at the smallest level of society – embracing these tiny interactions in a positive way and always being willing to help, or offer help, to those around us. By acting in this way, creating change at the smallest level, we may help to affect positive change at higher levels.

Uncategorised

For the many not the few…

I’ve not long got back from voting in my first ever General Election. Then after about ten minutes of trying to decide whether or not to put some money on Jeremy Corbyn to become Prime Minister, I closed the browser window – I just don’t have faith in this country to put the right person in power. I really do hope I’m kicking myself tomorrow for not having put that bet on.

I’ve never been a politically-minded person and as such had never voted in any capacity until the Leave / Remain vote last year. This is something I have made a conscious decision to change as of this week. It really is important to get off your ass and vote for the people that you want to represent you over the following four years. Just sitting back and saying “My one vote isn’t going to make a difference” or “They’re all the bloody same” just isn’t good enough. It’s lazy and it’s dangerous.

For my recent political awakening I have Russell Brand to thank with his Under the Skin podcast and Trews video series. Him and and his guests have opened my eyes up to see past all of the sensationalist bullshit that floods the news stands every day. I also have a new appreciation for more ideas around me as well questioning things that I hear; not always taking what I hear at face value.

Here is the video of Russell Brand urging people to register to vote. In the past I had the impression that Russell was a complete idiot. He’s now one of my biggest influences online as well as being one of the sanest political voices out there. Thanks Russell!

If the Conservatives gain power for the next four years, I believe that this country will enter a spiral into an abyss of fear, eroded human rights and regret.

Uncategorised

Let’s talk about the term ‘Terrorist’

Over the past three months the United Kingdom has witnessed some horrific acts of terrorism. The ones I am specifically referring to here are the Westminster attack on 22nd March 2017, the Manchester arena bombing on 22nd May 2017, and the London Bridge attacks of 3rd June 2017. These are disgusting, unforgivable acts of terror. One of the issues surrounding these, as well as other similar events, that I find frustrating – other than the events themselves, of course – is how the word ‘Terrorist’ or ‘Terror Incident’ gets used.

Seven people have been killed and dozens injured during attacks in two closely connected areas of London on Saturday night. The police are treating the attacks as terrorist incidents.From the Guardian website report on June 2017 London Bridge attacks.

Officers – including firearms officers – remain on the scene and we are treating this as a terrorist incident until we know otherwise.From the Guardian website report on March 2017 Westminster attack.

Terrorist

The below definitions taken from Dictionary.com

noun

  1. a person, usually a member of a group, who uses or advocates terrorism.
  2. a person who terrorizes or frightens others.
  3. (formerly) a member of a political group in Russia aiming at the demoralization of the government by terror.
  4. an agent or partisan of the revolutionary tribunal during the Reign of Terror in France.

adjective

  1. of, relating to, or characteristic of terrorism or terrorists:
    terrorist tactics.

Let’s not mistake what is happening in these events: people are commiting horrific acts of violence and desctruction; killing, harming and scaring many innocent people – they are, by definition, terrorists. However, within the media you will find quotes like the ones above, discussing how incidents are only being treated as terrorist incidents. One even goes as far as to say “[…] until we know otherwise”. I mean, with all the facts currently available at the time, nothing could change the fact that it is a terror incident.

What do they really mean?

I think what they are really talking about is the origin, nationality and agenda of the attackers. While this is important to find out in the context of the investigations, it makes no difference to the fact that that person, or persons, are terrorists. Plain and simple. If a Christian fundamentalist goes into a crowded place and kills a bunch of people, they are just as much of a terrorist as if a Muslim person did the same – any religeon for that matter (or none). The origin, nationality and agenda of the attacker(s) makes no baring on the outcome they are aiming to achieve.

So why is there such a reluctance to classify an incident, like those mentioned above, as terror incidents until further information is gathered? When the events in question so blatently are.

I was first woken up to this way of phrasing such news by Akala on Frankie Boyle’s Election Autopsy 2015. I have timestamped the link but I strongly urge you to watch the whole discussion.

Continue the discussion

I am not a politically savvy person; these are only my initial thoughts when reading the news of these tragic events. I encourage you to reply if you feel I am completely missing the point in what the news is trying to say. This post isn’t written to just try and get people angry. If anything, I’d like it to get people to think.

Thank you for reading.