Friday, October 31, 2008

Hello New Thing That Is Also An Old Thing

Vetiver: Miles Apart (Fat Cat, 2008)
Pulled, gently, from the band's wonderful new EP thing, Miles Apart was originally performed by the very excellent A.R. Kane. This new version is a whistle-along kerlassic. And, on a day as brilliantly over-loaded with crisp winter sunshine as this one, what more could you want?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

New Music Thursday

Bill Laswell: Broken Toenail Gland (Innerhythmic, 2008)
Bill Laswell: literally interesting. This fantastic track is taken from his marvelous new record what he did make with some other chaps. It is a bit hip hop, a bit abstract beat poetry, a bit funk, a bit dub and, well, a bit great. It is definitely grown-ups music, but, while it knows how to eat a piece of grilled fish without dropping the majority of it over its freshly-pressed trousers, it is still alive to the very real possibility of a spot lunacy. And who wouldn't want a piece of that?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Mellow Rating: High

Django Reinhardt: I Cover The Waterfront (Columbia, 1953)
I love this bit of information about "Django" - he was actually called Jean - that I learned off of the intranot this morning: "... After returning to France, Django spent the remainder of his days re-immersed in gypsy life, having found it difficult to adjust to the modern world. He would sometimes show up for concerts without a guitar or amp, or wander off to the park or beach, and on a few occasions he refused even to get out of bed. Reinhardt was known by his band, fans, and managers to be extremely unpredictable. He would often skip sold-out concerts to simply "walk to the beach" or "smell the dew"..." Sure, that might prove annoying if you and your beloved planned on seeing him knock out the tunes at Le Grosse Pamplemousse, or woteva, but, what a legacy...

Much more of this sort of thing here...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Baba Ganoush

I know it's the wrong time of year for aubergines but I had a load left over from work and wasn't in a creative mood so rather than leave them to slowly shrivel in the bottom of the fridge, I made baba ganoush. Predictable I know but blooming gorgeous. Especially with some warmed up lavash bread from Sophocles.

Prick the aubergines in several places then roast at 200C / gas 6 for 30 - 40 minutes until collapsed and wrinkled. Leave to cool a little then peel off and discard the skin. Puree in a food processor then mix some Greek yogurt, salt, lemon juice, olive oil and a little bit of chopped fresh mint.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Monday, October 20, 2008

This New Record Is Also Quite Good

Million Dan: Inner City Got Plenty Cases
I like to think of Million Dan as The Artist Previously Known As Mike J from his time with the brilliant Demon Boyz. Anyway, "Million" is now out there on his own making great records, that often feature incredibly odd samples. This one, however, is the sort of properly good hip hop record that people who don't like hip hop actually like. Though there is some swearing, which is hardly ever necessary, is it?

This New Record Is Literally Quite Good

Nightjar: Lady Of The Calico (Toad Records, 2008)
Toad Records are based in Edinburgh which, happily, is also where Nightjar are from. So that's cosy. Anyway, this is a lovely tune from a very nice record indeed. Were you thinking of slamming the door shut and not leaving the house again until spring, then this would be a fine companion.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Hello Old Thing, Hello New Thing: 38

Reggie Stepper: Cu-Oonh (Techniques, 1993)
I remember this record from "back" in the "day". I have strong memories of waving a beer bottle to it while trying to look nonchalant in a "fashionable" bar. That's not an easy look to master, I can assure you. Anyway, this little beauty can now be found - complete with the sort of deeply authentic crackles that only recycled vinyl Jamaican pressings can deliver - on this marvellous record that you can enjoy in your own home (raised container of "Stripe" optional).

Jesca Hoop: Murder Of Birds (acoustic) (Nettwerk, 2008)
This is one of those happy accidents where I actually played something that I'd sort of decided I didn't like (which is ridiculous). The thing I particularly like about Hoop is she is just the right side of annoyingly kooky. She's also makes interesting noises on her guitar, though I can barely believe I've just written that. But you'll see what I mean when you listen. The rest of this sort of thing is here...

Wanted: Local Sloes

Have you tried sloe gin? My word, it's the best thing ever! Our friend Ronnie gave us a bottle he'd made last year and we drank it with our plum crumble at the weekend. AMAZING!
I've got my recipe and I know the sloes are about ready for picking but I can't find any apart from a couple of sparse bushes in Crystal Palace Park. Who knows where the sloes are? Quickly, before I buy a case of the stuff that calls out to me every time I go to Sainsburys (that's twice a day).

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Monday, October 13, 2008

Valentine Warner's Plum Crumble

I've been hearing a lot of good things about BBC2 new boy Valentine Warner lately and one of our lunch guests even requested his plum crumble for pudding yesterday. I watched him make it here and got the recipe here. The filling was nice enough but a bit straightforward so I livened it up with some creme de cassis, a couple of star anise and some plump blackberries but the topping itself was spot on. I must start watching the series!

Friday, October 10, 2008

New Music Friday

Extrawelt: Homing (Cocoon Recordings, 2008)
I get sent a lot of electronic music, most of which I try to listen to and a lot of which just leaves me a bit, ahem, cold. I've done my time in the electronic dungeon and, to be honest, I'm quite happy up here with the beard-wearers these days, but this is a bit good. Extrawelt are two blokes from Germany and their record is, literally, quite nice. This track is even more than quite nice tho', it makes me want to stand in a dark room, very late at night, feeling tremendously woozy and I don't often get that feeling anymore. Thank you Extra chaps.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

An Old Record With A Secret Message

Johnnie Temple: Lead Pencil Blues (Vocalion, 1935)
I like this song - and the album it comes from - very much. But I don't claim to actually understand it...

The Cure: New Album News

As you can see from this stunning montage it's called 4:13 Dream and - here's the professional bit - it's really, really good. If I didn't mind the idea of going to prison for a long time I'd post The Only One which is, literally, the Greatest Pop Song Ever Written. But it's out soon anyway, so who could ask for more?

EDIT: Amazing!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

This New Record Is Literally Quite Good

Avrocar: Soft Lightning (Make Mine Music, 2008)
I should probably point out that that isn't what the band Avrocar look like, that would be silly, wouldn't it? No, that's an actual Avrocar, a device which was intended to exploit the Coandă effect to provide lift and thrust from a single "turborotor" blowing exhaust out the rim (we've all been there, right?). No, this Avrocar are some English chaps who love Kraftwerk and My Bloody Valentine and Nick Drake and are - oh yes! - signed to the same label as Epic45 and July Skies. The album is rather nice too...

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Bun Fight News

Yes, it rained and yes, it was windy but the people of Pecs didn't let us down. This year's Bun Fight was a triumph. We had veg sculptures galore including daleks make from peppers, miniature farms with broccoli trees, teeny, tiny rainbow carrots, elegant savarine ring cakes loaded with fresh fruit, toffee apple cup cakes and Charlie Fox with his award winning Victoria sponge. Sadly, Scrap didn't win anything with his 'horror' biscuits but he did come second in the vegetable hat parade with his Robin Hood hat of sugarsnaps to no 1, Loveday and her spectacular 'cavolo nero and radish crown' !

Monday, October 06, 2008

"Hello? Landcroft House..."

"Hello Landcroft House, it's Patti Smith here..."
"Hello Patti Smith, how are you?"
"Oh, I'm fine thanks! I've, like, got a new film coming out and stuff..."
"Great. Erm, you know what? While you're on the line, could I ask you something?"
"Sure, go ahead..."
"Tell me, what’s the greatest record ever made?"
"Oh God that is the hardest question I’ve ever been asked. That is terrible! Oh God, where do you even start? Oh… I’m thinking. Well, I very much liked Ascenscion by John Coltrane. I could go anywhere with that. But I’m not going to choose that one. It’s probably My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless – because it has everything in it. Which is what I was going to say about Coltrane. The best record ever made has changed a lot during my life! At one point it would have been Blonde On Blonde, then it would have been Coltrane’s My Favorite Things, then Ascenscion, then Electric Ladyland, it needs to be a record that has so many different feels, some visceral emotional experience, great lyrics. Actually, you know what, it’s James Brown’s Live At The Apollo! That’s an incredible experience. A great record should let you lose yourself and engage yourself. You can lose yourself and dance through the whole record. Loveless is like that too. It’s like entering into a new world, like Alice In Wonderland! Actually, today, it’s not James Brown. We’re pushing him aside again. It’s Loveless – I’ll keep that one. Sorry that took so long – it’s such a hard question!"
"No problem. Thanks Patti."
"No biggie, thanks LH..."

Friday, October 03, 2008

The Bellenden Bunfight

This year's competition is now taking place over the whole weekend.
Saturday is the Horticultural Show with categories for giant veg, mini veg, vegetable sculptures, miniature gardens and the grand Vegetable Hat Parade!
Sunday is the Cookery Competition with categories including classic Victoria sponge, cakes, tarts, cookies & biscuits and preserves.
The are special categories for children plus brilliant prizes, including a years subscription to Delicious Magazine, dinner for two at Ganapati and an outstanding Best in Show award donated by the East Duwlich Deli.
Kick off is 10am at Review Bookshop. All proceeds raised will be donated to a local charity. I am likley to be one of the judges and I'll make sure you win, so see you there, with your hats on!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

An Important Message To Pop Groups

The Scud Mountain Boys: Reservoir (Chunk, 1995)
I once wrote to The Scud Mountain Boys to tell them how much I liked their Television single. They wrote back to tell me how nice it was to get a letter from 3000 miles away (and some other stuff I can't remember). That's the sort of thing we used to do before the internet. Anyway, we've had some new shelves put up in the bedroom - they're lovely, thanks - and I found this down the back (FYI: it wasn't actually this - it was the original Chunk pressing out of Easthampton, MA, but you can't buy that "no more") and I still think, 'What nice chaps they are...'. A lesson there, I think, for all pop groups. Keep us sweet or, you never know, we may go elsewhere...

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Things You Find In The Basement While You're Looking For Something Else: 3

The Polyphonic Spree: Days Like This Keep Me Warm (Good Records, 2001)
It had been an odd sort of day anyway, and then, last night, I found myself rooting around in the basement looking for a cake tin. Under a dusty colander there was a box with a load of old drum and bass singles in it and under that, I found this. I remember when my friend Billy first tipped me off to the Spree. They had such an amazing look and such a powerful, uplifting vibe about them that it seemed like everyone who came into contact with them came away feeling a little better about almost everything. I certainly did a year or two later when the now defunct X-Ray magazine sent me to Dallas to interview main Spree chap Tim (we stayed here and my room over-looked where JFK was shot, though, to be fair, I think all Dallas hotel rooms over-look where JFK was shot). Tim was a truly inspiring guy who had a wife and young kids and a record shop and this huge band to look after, but took time out to take me and their press officer (my old mate Lewis, now Elbow's representative on earth) and X-Ray's photographer to his favourite Mexican restaurant for lunch then drive us around a string of fantastic thrift stores and, finally, out for a long evening of cold beer drinking. What a chap. What a band. Of course, when they came back with their second album the British press went, 'Well, we've already done this lot!' and the wheels began to come off. But my love is still strong...