Friday, August 29, 2008

Hello Old Thing, Hello New Thing: 37

Gilberto Gil: Procissão (Phillips, 1968)
There aren't many people who could argue that, as an entire package, they're a lot cooler than Gilberto Gil. A long-term musical and political activist, his late 60's work was thought of as so inflammatory that it got him thrown in prison by Brazil's then military government. He was, until recently the country's Minister For Culture. That's progress, right? Anyhoo, this absolute belter of psychedelic, tropicalian, sambatic loveliness was originally to be found here, but it's now here for a very reasonable price. Stuffed full of uh-mazing choons too...

Hollowbody: Chains (Sleeping Horse, 2008)
I opened my post this morning and there was a hand-written postcard from this chap Dan Weltman who records as Hollowbody. Now, I'm a complete sucker when it comes to hand-written notes, so I whacked this straight on and, oh dear, it's really, really good. Weltman has a fantastically easy sort of voice, like he's not hugely bothered if you're listening or not, and he swings in and around the tune with a real charm. He plays that guitar nicely too. So, a good package then. Thanks for the CD Dan. Good luck with it all...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Tiger Beer Singapore Chilli Crab Festival

Landcroft House is leaving SE22 for a few hours this weekend to go to this.
See you by the chilli crab stand, about midday?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Children's Chocolate Party Cake

One of the mums at Scrap's nursery organised a leavers' party this weekend. It was held in a lovely sports pavillion and while the nice girls quietly joined in with the juggler and his plate spinning, all the grubby boys spent their time running the full length of the fields, only legging it back when he started fire-eating.
Anyway, I made the cakes - some little fairies and a very basic chocolate sponge made to look exciting with curly wurlies and rolos.Serves 20
6 eggs
300g caster sugar
275g self raising four
25g good cocoa
300g softened butter
180g dark chocolate, melted and cooled
250g butter, softened
280g icing sugar
chocolates: minstrels, buttons, planets, maltesers etc

Mix together the cake ingredients with an electric whisk until pale and fluffy. Divide between two lined, 23cm, loose-bottomed tins and bake at 180C for 20 minutes or so until risen and just set. Leave to cool.

Beat together the chocolate, butter and icing sugar. Use a quarter of it to sandwich the cakes together then spread the rest up the sides and over the top. Scatter the chocolates on top and leave to set.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Crispy Onion Bhajis

Last night’s dinner had an Indian theme. The main course was a Lamb Shank Dhansak, roughly based on an old Nigella Lawson stew recipe and for starters, hot little onion bhajis with raita and chutneys. After turning the house upside down looking for the scrap of paper with my ancient recipe on it, I ended up following the one on the side of the Natco Gram Flour bag. And they were great. Eat them as soon as they come out of the pan.

Makes about 24
2 large onions, thinly sliced
1 tbsp roughly chopped coriander leaves
2 green chilles, seeded and thinly sliced
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp salt
½ tsp hot chilli powder
1 -2 teacups gram flour
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
lemon wedges, to serve

Heat a few centimeters of sunflower oil in a wok.

Mix together the onions, coriander, chillies, cumin, salt, chilli, gram flour and bicarb, making sure the onions are well coated. Stir in some cold water to make a thick batter then leave to rest for 5 minutes or so until the oil is hot enough.

Drop small spoonfuls into the pan (I cooked mine in batches of 4 and put them straight onto the table where they disappeared just as the next batch was ready) – and cook until crisp and golden - they should take about 3 minutes, if they’re taking longer, let the oil get a bit hotter to ensure they cook crisply. Drain on kitchen paper and serve with wedges of lemon.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Heartbreak Rap: It's The Future

Jack Flash: Intoxicating (Klinik Records, 2008)
I have now listened to this six times on the trot ("But the bad nights kept coming, and she was changing, and that's when my heart started breaking...") and I'm not even nearly done with it yet. This works on all the important levels: the samples are beautifully simple and layered, the lyrics are eye-wateringly personal and there's even a sing-a-long chorus to warble on the bus. Jack is from Huddersfield and seems like a decent sort of cove. There's a lot more JF stuff here. Excellent work that man (even if it is about "pot" and not The Ladies).

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Oh Dear Me, This Is Good

Rokia Traoré: Kounandi (Nonesuch, 2008)
I've been carrying this CD around in my bag for about a month, attracted by the name and the label. I always thought it would be, y'know, interesting, but I never actually expected it to this good. And, honestly, this is really, really good. If you like this track - and I can't for a moment think of a reason why you wouldn't - you will like the whole record. Which is great. Did I mention that already?

Hang On A Minute, This Is A Bit Good

Tony Christie: Danger Is A Woman In Love (Autonomy Music, 2008)
I have, officially, forgotten about Amarillo. Taken from Christie's truly, truly brilliant new, Richard Hawley produced album, Made In Sheffield, ... Woman In Love is top-drawer croonology founded on the mathematical thoery that Bond-theme drama plus crinkly-eyed wisdom multiplied by a great big aching heart can only ever produce good work. I should mention at this point that the album includes a version of Human League's Louise that is so good it's actually a bit terrifying.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Foul Mouthed Fun

Miracles can happen - a viral ad that is, literally, really funny. And, hello, here's another one...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Hello Old Thing, Hello New Thing: 36

Steinski: Jazz (Tommy Boy promo, 1998)
Originally planned as a tribute remix of Afrika Bambaata's Jazzy Sensation, Steinski - and pal Double D (who got back together after ten years for this, reunion fans) - basically rebuilt the whole thing from the ground up and produced this cut 'n' paste masterpiece. But then, Steinski is the original go-to guy for cut 'n' paste masterpieces, so perhaps that's not too much of a surprise. Whatever - much more Steinski business on this brilliant compilation.

Peter Broderick: Games (Bella Union, 2008)
If there was a users guide to getting yourself deeply nestled in my good books then describing your music as "Acoustic / Folk / Classical" on your Myspace, um, thing would appear at the very top of the first page. Broderick's only 21 and recently moved from his home town of Portland to Copenhagen so he can join his Danish heroes Efterklang. Well, that's the sort of thing you can do when you have youth on your side, isn't it? Anyway, Games is so lovely it makes my legs ache (or maybe they already were aching, I can't remember), it is a little bit Arvo Part and a little bit Fleet Foxes and, frankly, that's good enough for me. Great album too...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Hang On A Minute, This Sounds Familiar

Denise LaSalle: Fool Me Good (ABC, 1977)
I just can't put my finger on it, but this excellent Denise LaSalle track sounds oddly familiar.

This New Record Is Literally Quite Good

Damien Jurado: Everything Trying (Secretly Canadian, 2008)
Jurado is one of those chaps that's been banging away - sometimes like an outhouse door in the wind, yes - for some time. And, in doing so, every now and again he drops a belter. And this is that belter. Taken - wholesale - from his new album, Caught In The Trees, this is more than a little bit lovely. "I'm be sailing on your deep blue eyes," he croons, as cellos and pianos swell like a lover's heart. This is the stuff, Jurado - more of the same please.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I Am A Very Lucky Person

It's always a pleasure going through the post when you get back from holiday (very hot, lovely, thanks), especially when it appears to be from an old friend. For some reason my email program considered the following to be spam:

FROM: Jose Padilla III
Dear Winner,
Winning Notification. This is to notify you that you have won £250,000.00 in our online email lottery in which e-mail addresses are picked randomly by computerised balloting, powered by the Internet. Your email address was one of the lucky winners
in this year bonnanza draw.

To claim your prize, please contact: The UKNL Foundation, claims department
Contact Person: Mr.Brender Williams
Contact Email:
Office Tel :07045 764 423

Mad, eh? It clearly isn't! I'm particularly pleased as Jose Padilla - the Ibizan DJ "legend", not the dirty bomber - once threated me with a lawsuit over a review I wrote of one of his awful, witless records. I wish I still had the messages he left on my answerphone asking me why I would write such things about him and how I didn't "understand" his "work". "If you don't call me back to resolve this I'll sue!" he squeaked in his silly little voice. Happy times! Anyway, it seems all the old niggles have been ironed out and I will be claiming my prize from "Brender" (I love those old English names!) in the morning...

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Friday, August 01, 2008

Summer Berry Tart For Tonight's Tea

Got a thing for baking at the moment. Sorry. I'll make this the last sweet thing for a while. It's very very easy to make and I think it's going to taste nice.

Serves 6 - 8
375g sweet shortcrust pastry
50g dark chocolate
300g custard
200g creme fraiche
1 - 2 tbsp icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 180 / Gas 4. Use the pastry to line a 20cm fluted tart tin. Prick the base, line with greaseproof and fill with baking beans, bake for 20 minutes then remove the beans and cook for a further 10 or so minutes until light brown. leave to cool.

Melt the chocolate and brush the inside of the pastry case with it. Leave to set - this will 'waterproof' the inside and stop it going soggy.

Mix together the custard and creme fraiche and sweeten a little with the icing sugar. Spoon into the case then scatter over some berries. Chill until ready to eat.

The Streets New Album: Oh Dear Me It's Good

It's called Everything Is Borrowed and it's out on September 15. Anyway, as with all Streets albums, I start out thinking I don't like it at all and then I realise that, actually, it's bloody great. This one appears to be about, hello!, mortality and life and death and family and all that caper. There are tunes a plenty, but right now I'm a wee bit obsessed with The Escapist and Heaven For The Weather. But there'll be others. Nice concept with the promo sleeves too - "borrowing" old ones and, like, recycling them. Hurray. I can't post anything on account of I'd be murdered in my bed if I did. But I will when I can (probably).

EDIT: Escapist video...