Category: music


goodreads 2018.jpgSince 2014, I have set and maintained a relatively modest reading target on ‘Goodreads‘ of 50 titles a year. I find this website invaluable at the end of year when it comes to reviewing the books I’ve read.

Being gifted, and being thoroughly absorbed by, Kazuo Ishiguro’s ‘The Buried Giant’ led me to a reappraisal of the Nobel Prize Winner. Up until then, I’d read only ‘Remains Of The Day’ and hadn’t been particularly drawn to his other novels. The slow, deliberate pace and absence of colloquial language put me off but now this actually drew me in. Perhaps it’s an age thing. Ishiguro skillfully takes the reader deep into the mind and, above all, the memories of his characters. The only novel of his I haven’t read is ‘The Unconsoled’. Aside from the uncharacteristically messy ‘When We Were Orphans’, I rated all of his works very highly.

Getting fixated on this male author sabotaged my resolve to read more female writers this year. By the end of the year only 20 of the 50 were by women. Of these, my two favorite novels, one old and one new, were Sarah Waters’ quietly subversive ‘Fingersmith’ and Gail Honeyman’s funny/sad study of loneliness : ‘Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine’. Continue reading

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Best music of 2018

laura-gibson-tenderness-song

Laura Gibson released my favorite album & song in 2018

In 2018 I reviewed 219 records for the Whisperin’ & Hollerin’ webzine. Of these, the following is a list of my ten favorite new albums and the top 5  reissues. You can read my reviews to all these on the W&H website to find out why.

TOP TEN BEST ALBUMS 2018
1. LAURA GIBSON – Goners
2. SARAH LOUISE – Deeper Woods
3. GWENNO – Le Kov
4. MARISSA NADLER – For My Crimes
5. JOAN AS POLICE WOMAN – Damned Devotion
6. MODERN STUDIES – Welcome Strangers
7. ETHAN GOLD – Live Undead Bedroom Closet Covers
8. THE BEVIS FROND – We’re Your Friends, Man
9. JIM JAMES – Uniform Distortion
10. IRON & WINE – Weed Garden EP

BEST REISSUES 2018
1. BUFFY SAINTE- MARIE – Medicine Songs
2. CALEXICO – The Black Light (20th Anniversary Edition)
3. BERT JANSCH – A Man I’d Rather Be
4. VARIOUS ARTISTS: PARADISE – THE SOUND OF IVOR RAYMONDE
5. DAVE EVANS – The Words In Between

SONG OF THE YEAR:
LAURA GIBSON – Domestication

The casual appeal of Damien Jurado

DAMIEN JURADO Live at the Bronson Club, Ravenna, Italy 2nd November 2018

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Josh Gordon (left) and Damien Jurado at The Bronson.

When it comes to clothes, Damien Jurado doesn’t make a great distinction between street and stage. In a well-worn sweatshirt, ripped jeans and old sneakers, he gives the impression that he’s wandered into the club only vaguely aware that there are paying guests to watch him perform.

And yet, far from being slobby or disrespectful, his casual attire is very much in keeping with the un-showy style of his music. His songs never go out of their way to grab the attention but, rather, they have a relaxing and slightly hypnotic quality.

They are relatively short so, rather than telling complete stories, they take on the quality of brief, introspective reflections. His finest songs like ‘Over Rainbows And Rainer’ and, my favorite, ‘A.M.Am’ manage to combine elements of melancholy and celebration.

The only cover he plays is ‘The Novelist’ by Richard Swift who sadly passed away in July of this year aged 41. Jurado makes a touching tribute to his late friend who he frequently collaborated with.

On stage in Ravenna, before a small, attentive seated audience, he is accompanied by gifted guitarist, Josh Gordon. Remarkably for such quiet, understated music, his songs sound even more intimate in a live setting.

Between each song he spends a minute or two patiently re-tuning his acoustic guitar (“It’s like tuning a harp”). He doesn’t speak much but he tells a lengthy anecdote by way of introduction to ‘Percy Faith’. which he once heard playing over the P.A. while boarding a plane from Seattle to LA. He was the last to take his seat conscious that the other passengers, annoyed by his lateness, were almost certainly oblivious to the fact he was composer of the music they were listening to. Not only that, but the plane’s hostess was unimpressed when he told her.

This story illustrates that Jurado never really expects anyone to be starstruck or even mildly dazzled by his modest fame. He simply writes great tunes which he sings in a soft, soothing voice that subtly draws you into his world.

To Throw Away Unopened by Viv Albertine (Faber & Faber, 2018)

vivThis is not a memoir about music but if you come to it as a fan of The Slits you will not be disappointed by the embodiment of the punk spirit that Viv Albertine represents.

In it, she describes herself as questioning, militant, aggressive, secretly shy, awkward, mistrustful and solitary. Continue reading

MERCURY REV live at Teatro Moderna,

Savignano sul Rubicone, Italy 13th September 2018

Mercury_RevThis is one of a limited series of concerts to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Mercury Rev’s breakthrough album ‘Deserter’s Songs’.

At the time of release, this band from Buffalo, New York were at the point of imploding due to rapidly depleting sales. The songs were therefore composed with no real expectation that they would reach a wider audience and there was even some doubt that they’d even find a record label to put them out. Continue reading

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