Category: music

Illustration by Lizzy Stewart.

Illustration by Lizzy Stewart.

‘Don’t Make A Scene – A field guide to putting on DIY gigs’ is a ‘zine compiled by Rob St John and Bartholomew Owl; two dedicated Alt.Folk musicians and all round decent guys.

The 2014 booklet was originally charged at a highly reasonable £4. Now it’s an even better deal as it’s just been made available as a free to download PDF. This generous offer is a way of sticking two fingers up to Black Friday zombie consumption and to embrace the spirit of buy nothing day. Continue reading

THE ART OF ASKING by Amanda Palmer (PIatkus Books, 2014)

This book is part memoir, part manifesto and part egocentric vanity project.

Amanda Palmer is a performance artist. She has been a human statue, a stripper and is best known as the lead singer of The Dresden Dolls who, in their early years were, in her own words, “a punk-cabaret duo specializing in tear-jerking seven-minute songs with drum solos”.

The manifesto part, is her fervent belief that artists, and by extension all human beings, need to learn that there is no shame in asking for help when you need a place to sleep or money to finance projects.

The experiences she recounts are proof that this can work. The most dramatic example is a Kickstarter campaign to fund an album. She set a relatively modest target of $100,000 but eventually raised a record-breaking $1 million. This level of success was not without its critics. She has been labelled a “self-serving, greedy, superficial attention whore” but is thick-skinned enough to overcome such unmerited slurs. Continue reading

violenza_donneTo mark International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, I’m sharing this song and video.

It was written for the documentary The Hunting Ground which highlights the shocking number of rapes that take place on US college campuses and the subsequent cover up by the institutions involved.

The song written by Diane Warren and Lady Gaga is entitled “Til It Happens to You” and the video graphically addresses this important issue:


MERCURY REV live at The Bronson Club, Ravenna, Italy 14th November 2015

mercury revWhen the music’s over, life loses meaning.

In the immediate aftermath of the bloodshed in Paris, it was a relief that Mercury Rev decided to go ahead with this show in Ravenna, their only date in Italy.

“The music doesn’t stop. Maybe it’s the only thing we have now” says Jonathan Donahue at the beginning of a luminous concert which briefly makes the horrific events at Le Batacian seem like a fleeting nightmare.

It is a timely reminder that music has the power to excite, inspire and unite. When the news is dominated by death it gives us strength and hope. Continue reading


GRASSCUT – Live at Diagonal Loft Club, Forlì, Italy 11th November 2015

In Grasscut’s short nine-song set, the Brighton-based duo play the whole of one of the year’s best releases : Everyone Was A Bird. The odd one out is – Reservoir – from 2012’s Unearth.

In my review of this album for Whisperin’ & Hollerin’, I highlighted the subtlety and intimacy of this record. Perhaps inevitably, these qualities are hard to replicate in a live setting, particularly one where many punters are out for a drink and a chat rather than to listen to music.

Nevertheless, it is great to put a face to the songs and to personally thank Andrew Phillips and Marcus O’Dair for the music after the show. This studious looking pair are joined on stage by drummer Aram Zarikian.

The black and white homemade movies playing on a screen behind them is a nice touch in that it emphasizes how Phillips’ primary subject is the British countryside near his current home or from his childhood. Both in words and images, these are no dewy-eyed odes to nature. We see bleak yet beautiful Autumnal or Wintry landscapes peppered with electrical pylons and the ominous presence of a nuclear power station.

The absence of string instruments is quite a loss and the sampled voices, including the voice of poet Siegfried Sassoon, cannot be heard clearly but they still manage to convey the rugged charm of the melodies and richness of the language.


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