Sunday, 19 December 2010

Please RT: How the Observer (mis)treated yesterdays UKUncut action

I am so bloody angry at The Observer's inaccurate reporting of yesterdays UK Uncut action. I was at Oxford Street. I know what we did.

Actually you can check my twitter stream. I live blogged what we did. Don't even have to rely on the memory of me and the other protesters:

These are more accurate:

Firstly from The Daily Mail(!) who may not say the full time Vodafone was closed for but at least they say it was closed and they generally give pretty good write up:

Then from Red Pepper, this is very true to my experience:

And lastly for any more information about all of yesterdays action here is a good media outlet:

Saturday, 11 December 2010

You can buy The Dave's album here...

Due to myspaces changes my myspace lost all its well crafted html. Until I work out how to get some of that back or at least how to get a bloody buy now button on the site somehow this blog page is where you can get the album!

The Dave's NEW ALBUM: 'Going Back To Finish The Job' £5 (including postage and packaging)

Friday, 10 December 2010

Dave Related News: December and beyond‏

Apples For Everyone is ending. Come to our goodbye party:

11th December: 7.30pm: The Miller (96 Snowsfield Road, London Bridge SE1 3SS) £5 entry. FACEBOOK EVENT PAGE.

A new experimental podcast series has been recorded by myself and two old friends. The show is called Four Days In A Room and may be released sometime in the next few weeks. However editing it is epic and so you may have to wait till January. Watch this space or follow it on twitter and/or on facebook for updates on this project.

You can hear me tell a true story live for the Spark London podcast here: Two Cathedrals

Also I have become a curator for the excellent podcast aggregator So check that site out. On it you will get regular bundles of audio joy selected by various podcast fanatics, who trawl through the millions of options out there to you so you don't have to. Have a listen and TELL YOUR FRIENDS. If you want to explore my past curations you can here: Dave's Picks

So it's coming up to Christmas so why not buy The Dave's album "Going Back to Finish the Job", it makes the perfect present for the person who has everything, also for the person who has nothing, and for everyone in between and it's available for £5 (inc p and p) from here:

The Dave is posting a YouTube christmas song on the 24th December:

Why the delay on the release of The Reactionaries? Well that's a long and very boring story. The delay is NOT our fault. However it now looks likely that we won't be able to release it till next year as we have been completely let down by the company that was printing it for us and we need to revise our intentions and find a new way of getting it done. It will be done though and our great album will be released ASAP in 2011. We can't believe how long its
taking either. But sadly that's what happens when you want to sell a nice product yourself.

Follow me on Twitter: I give good Tweet.

The Band is dead, Long live the Band
- Oh yes, The Dave is looking to expand into a band, London based musicians please check out the concept and consider getting involved. The advert is here. The band will also be a podcast. SPREAD THE WORD.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

The principal of opposing the cuts...

What we have to remember when we oppose the cuts. When we fight against these attacks on the public that come from a cabinet formed of millionaires (and a government formed from the principal of maintaining the status quo rather than addressing the disconnection between public and government) we have to remember, and explicitly state that we stand for the general principle and not the specific issue.

By which I mean:

The basic principal is that those who got us into this mess: banks, businesses and various elected and none elected million and billionaires must pay to get us out of it. The cuts must fall on them. This isn't just fair it is also essential because they can take it. Unlike the poor and the public services. We aren't opposing any single cut but all cuts that fall elsewhere. Each individual strike and protest (and personally I favour civil disobedience over striking) needs to (and most are to be fair) make it clear they are against everyone being cut. This avoids them looking selfish and foster solidarity in people who aren't in a position to strike or cut.

The other principal is that we should have collective free public service. Opposing tuition fees isn't supporting the education system. It is standing for the right to free education. I personally hate the education system, and the elitist and navel gazing nature of most universities and many academics. But that is a specific issue. When we win back their funding then we can use that money to make them better.

Same goes for The Libraries, The Police, Children's Services, Benefits, Arts, Social Work, Sports and all the services that will be cut. I'd go further and add things already privatised like transport and traffic wardens. These things should be free and paid for collectively through taxation with the rich paying more because they can afford to. That doesn't mean I am in favour of Prisons or Police brutality, or the repositioning of public service as business, or the way paper work and absurd assessment is literally ruining education and social services. All these things must be addressed. And we should make it clear they aren't good enough. They need to be sorted out. BUT STOP CUTTING THEM and we will be able to address these issues.

Because the principal of Public Services is what we are fighting for, not the current reality of them. And we know we collectively can afford them and can collectively get out of this. Because we ARE all in it together. ALL of us. Including the members of the Bullingdon club and the Tax Cheaters like Vodafone and Philip Green. It is time to make them pay.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Striking Issue 2: BBC...

Mark Thompson's email to the BBC staff is all well and good:

On paper it sounds fair. An accord has been reached with the unions and we're all "in this together". The BBC as per usual worried that the public will object to the BBC not feeling some of the pain.

Thing is whilst everyone will have to rethink pensions as our old people heavy population stretches its resources further than they'll reach. But there is somewhere we can find money: Cutting the obscene salaries and expenses of management like Thompson.

And while we're at it slash the obscene salaries of the "talent". If they want to take their talent elsewhere then fine. There is other talent out there. Plenty. Currently not getting a chance. And most talent will stay since the BBC is still a much bigger audience reacher than any private companies.

As for striking, well I much prefer unified strikes rather than individual strikes. I want to see everyone arguing all the cuts need to be attacked, rather than that their own needs and industries are more important. I want to see a situation where those without access to unions get the same rights and freedoms as the unionised. And I want to see unions whose executives get paid reasonable salaries and do not support the basic dominant logic of culture.

That said the BBC isn't the Transport service, whose strikes screw over the poorest commuters and cause real problems for people. The BBC isn't the fire service whose decision to strike tomorrow may result in death and destruction across all areas of society (though you can bet the poorer people will suffer worse).

I am a believer in the BBC. I think its independence is really important. Yes, its flawed and could be improved in terms of its commissioning and its salaries, but its the best we have. I want to push it to be better. But I think if it is a casualty if this administrations attack on culture this will be terrible.

But all that said it isn't an essential service. Striking will only show people what they would miss. It wouldn't be as hard for the public to support as the strikes of needed services that hurt those already struggling.

This makes Thompson's position pretty weak. Especially as he is just lying down and taking the governments medicine. Twitter is alive with people who are #ProudoftheBBC. But its exec are meekly accepting its erosion.

The BBC strikers should go ahead. They should change their negotiations to: find the pension funds by reducing the salaries of the overpaid at the BBC. That would avoid any decrease in the quality of the services.

The only decrease in service quality will come from the governments cuts. And those decreases should be shown. If we all paper over the cracks no one will see them until everything falls down.

And the BBC strikers should unite with all the other strikers. With no Union accepting anything till an agreement that works for everyone is reached. Or else they should instead engage their members in direct action protests and find alternative ways to fight these fucking cuts.

Direct action: John Pilger -

But the cuts have to happen... NO THEY FUCKING DON'T. And their effect will be much much worse for us all:

Striking Issue 1: RMT...

(these commentaries on strikes are written using thumbs as facebook notes and tweets)

So far this tube strike has caused me to miss a great one off gig, now it makes me get up at six and severely bus it. Solidarity depleted.

But... obviously - if we are going to attack them though we need to REALLY be in it together.

RMT should be striking against ALL cuts. They should be striking with/for everyone. Even engaging in different forms of collective action.

Alternatives to single issue strikes

No 1: Collectively refusing to pay council tax until the welfare system is assured. We pay our taxes for the public good and if they are not being used that way then we should withdraw them.

No 2: Protests and shut downs such as those currently happening to make Vodafone pay its 6bn tax bill. Other good targets: Banks, Parliament, The City. Transport or fire service strikes make life harder for working and poor people. They aren't to blame. They can't take it. It is those with the money and power we should be opposing.

No 3: Striking with as many other unions as possible against all the cuts and for taxing rich/bankers/etc... as the most obvious immediate alternative.

No 4: A REAL general strike with everyone involved. The right to strike needs to be universal. Available to all whether they pay into a union or not. We should all insist on this. It allows for general strikes, stops people being forced against their principals to cross picket lines and allows people to opt out of unions without disenfranchising themselves.

(Also if the RMT are taking my advice they should really stop paying its leaders such high salaries. And stop asking for pay increases to their well paid staff. Oh and get rid of Bob fucking Crow.)

Friday, 22 October 2010

Dave Related News: October and Beyond

Hey, long time no tell you about all my projects, time to change that sad fact...

Apples For Everyone is ending. Come to our goodbye party:

11th December: 7.30pm: The Miller (96 Snowsfield Road, London Bridge SE1 3SS) £5 entry. FACEBOOK EVENT PAGE.

The Band is dead, Long live the Band - Oh yes, The Dave is looking to expand into a band, London based musicians please check out the concept and consider getting involved. The advert is here. The band will also be a podcast. SPREAD THE WORD.

The Dave still exists alone however and is doing a solo gig in Bristol to prove it:

24th November: 8pm: Folk Tales ( Scout Hut [Bristol Harbour] Redcliff Backs [Black Wooden Building across the bridge and opposite Severn Shed and Riverstation, Welshback way])

The Dave's album "Going Back to Finish the Job" is available for £5 (inc p and p) from here:

Talking about podcasts:

I'm performing a true story told live (and without notes) *GULP* This is for Spark London, a great night of Stories that also has a podcast available (on the Itunes and other netty places) So come and see me on Monday 1st November at 7.30pm at the Canal Cafe Theatre, London W9 6ND The theme of the night is "Mistaken Identities".

Also I have become a curator for the excellent podcast aggregator So check that site out. On it you will get regular bundles of audio joy selected by various podcast fanatics, who trawl through the millions of options out there to you so you don't have to. Have a listen and TELL YOUR FRIENDS.

And finally on the podcast front, a new experimental podcast series has been recorded by myself and two old friends. The show is called Four Days In A Room and will probably begin to be released sometime in December. Watch this space or follow it on twitter for updates on this project.

My short story Elegance has been published in A DemonMinds Halloween: 2010 Edition (Volume 66) which is an American magazine. It's available on But buying it won't give me more money, my one of payment has already happened.

Why the delay on the release of The Reactionaries? Well that's a long and very boring story. It will be happening soon (I was hoping to be able to include it in this email but it wasn't to be.) The delay is NOT our fault. Our CD will be available ASAP.

Follow me on Twitter: I give good Tweet.

ADVERT: New band being started, members needed!

I am starting a new band up. The band will be a 4 piece (including me) and it will play my songs.

I want to make epic electronic folk pop, mixing nice folky instruments with pleasing electronic sounds. I'm particularly interested in duets and multi vocal arrangements. The band will have a punk ethos and a low fi sensibility.

This is what my solo out put sounds like: I want to extend and develop that sound.

This is a spotify playlist of songs/bands I am currently influenced by: New Band

The band will not kill ourselves on the souless London gig circuit where no one sees you and you never get paid. We will carve out our own space with regular live performances recorded in intimate venues with invited audiences and guests and distributed via a free Podcast and a YouTube channel both promoted using Twitter, Facebook and other similar sites.

Basically we play in peoples front rooms and invite our friends to come along have some drinks and watch us play. No more hassling your mates to come out and pay stupid amounts of money to lazy promotors and watch a load of shite bands play!

Once we get followers online we will put on "live podcast" nights at good London venues. We will programme those nights with quality support acts and bands, pay everyone to play, and hopefully make a profit. We'll record the nights and offer them for free as podcast specials.

We'll also be looking to generate income through voluntary donation on our websites, we will play any good gig offers at none rip off nights (generally when you are offered a gig they are good, but when you ask for a gig you get screwed) and we will also sell EP's and albums as and when online.

Potential members need to live in London and be prepared to rehearse one or twice a week regularly. Music must be your passion not your hobby and you need to be someone willing and able to commit to regular rehearsals, recordings and performance. All singers must use their real accents. Only sound American if you are American. Ideally all band members can sing (I am not interested in conventional voices, there are many kinds of singing...) Also useful are webskills and music production interest/knowledge.

I’m looking for collaborators with musical ideas, and there will be plenty of room to put your own art into the project, however we will be playing my songs and adhering to my vision, at least for the initial start up period of the bands life.

So I play Ukulele, Guitar, Analogue Keys, Melodica, Kazoo and sing. To add to that I am looking for 3 of the following:
  • Bass player (who also plays guitar and/or keys)
  • Electronic sound maker who plays Syntherizer/Drum Machine/EWI... (Drum Machine could form the drums for the band so someone who makes good beats very ideal) - I'm particularly interested in using classic computer game sounds; spectrum, atari, nintendo etc... not making pure chiptunes or anything but having some of that in the electronic dimension of the music.
  • Percussionist who can play kit but is also into playing all sorts of rhythmic things
  • Female vocalist (preferably but not essentially also plays an instrument)
  • Someone who plays a nice and relatively unusual instrument: e.g. Cello, Bassoon, Flute, Banjo

If you are interested or you know someone who is please get in touch with me and we can meet up, jam and see if we click:



Compiling the Compilations

So over the last few months I've been sortof playlist blogging, with a different compilation being released over twitter and facebook (all created and shared on spotify.)

This happened semi accidentally, with me deciding that there were enough songs about whales that were ace to justify a playlist. After that I became interested in theme based playlists and have really enjoyed putting them together. There are some quality ones here.

I've been aided and abetted occasionally by tweeps and facebookers, giving me many useful and surprising suggestions. The twits of note are @EmilyCleaver (fellow whale song enthusiast), @haylien and @jadamthwaite (she made suggestions face to face mind you cos she happens to live with me for her sins.)

That said I am resting for the time being, with other projects demanding my time I must give something up and making playlists is the obvious thing to go.

So I thought I'd collect them all here in one place so that people can peruse them at their leisure and hopefully pleasure. I shall also repost them on the feeds when appropriate. The only playlist not yet promoted is the one about Snow. For obvious reasons!

(I am still open to song suggestions...)

Abstract Notions:

Heaven: A made for TV movie
A Memory
Personal Jesus
Dreams: Dreams / Dreams Of You

Rights Of Passage:

His and Hers Spotify Playlists about Wanking
Songs for hangovers - the dave mix
Moving House: Songs about years and days



Science and Space:

Dreaming of floating in space...
Moon: Moon / Croon Moon: The Crooner Edition / Magnetic Moon - Magnetic Fields songs about the moon


The River
Rain Down On Me

Friday, 24 September 2010

His and Hers Spotify Playlists about Wanking

So I've done some very high minded spotify playlists recently so as an antidote here's 2 about wanking. One from the male perspective and the other from the female:

Wank: Boys

Wank: Girls

Friday, 17 September 2010

Found Story 2: The Badgers and the Goodgers

[I found 2 stories I wrote when I was 6.
All grammer/spelling mistakes are from original.]

A long time ago in the times when the Gods and the demons lived there was a wood with the only Badgers and the Goodgers in it.

The Badgers were very bad they did not wosh or blow thar nose. The Goodgers were good thay wosh and blow thar nose.

But the demon of the land made a drought and that made famin. In the famin the Badgers and the Goodfers were the worst off. But the Goodgers gave their food to the badgers. So the Goodgers died but the Badgers lived.


Found Story 1: The Juggler Who Worked For God

[I found 2 stories I wrote when I was 6.
All grammar/spelling mistakes are from original.]


A very long time ago there was

a juggler

who was working for God juggling

all over the world just for the people

all over the world.



The juggler had grown old and feeble.

He couldn't do very well tricks anymore. He decided to become a monk and he went into a monastery and there was a statue of Mary holding Jesus.

The baby looked so nice that the juggler performed tricks, and one of the monks in the monastery saw him performing and he went to tell his master that there was a madman in the monastery.

When the monk came back he found that the juggler was dead holding a ball with the world on it, and he had died at Jesus's feet.


Friday, 10 September 2010

Heaven: A Made for TV Movie

Okay so recently I have been making themed based spotify playlists and like most things I do I've been a little obsessive about it. I've got quite a few more in the pipeline and I'll be sharing those as and when they're ready. And if you want to hear the previous ones you can search back in my twitter feed and find links.

This one came from a similar idea as the one I did about Jesus and the one I'm currently compiling about God. However this one turned into a narrative list, with each part being formed of two tracks, one speaking and the other replying.

So far so pretentious. But there you go. So this playlist needs notes and they are written below:

Heaven: A Made for TV Movie
Two souls die and meet in heaven

Track 1 and 2: The Death and The Promise
Track 3 and 4: The way to heaven
Track 5 and 6. Knocking on the door and going in
Track 7 and 8. The joy and beauty of heaven
Track 9. and 10. The material nature of heaven
Track 11. and 12. The medium of heaven
Track 13. and 14. Outro

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Review: Toy Story 3

This film is a perfect film. Everything in it works.

It will entertain children whilst also making adults cry.

It was beautiful and wonderful. Just the right amounts of bleakness, despair, hope and love. Perfectly blended and seasoned.

It is the best of the 3 films. It may be the first 3 that is the best of a film trilogy. Not that the other two films aren't also great.

I reckon it will be 2010's best film.

Go and see it.

Review: Inception

I am generally split between not liking and liking Christopher Nolan's films. I didn't like Batman Begins or Insomnia but I really loved Memento and Dark Knight. I liked The Prestige but also found it a bit emotionally cold.

Inception falls into the didn't like camp.

Part of that may be that I am not that interested in James Bond style action sequences. Which is not to say that I don't like action, I do. I just have to care about the characters and find the sequences to have something new and engaging about them. I found Inceptions action pretty dull and unoriginal. And there was just TOO MUCH of it.

The film has some good things about it. The cast are great. The acting very good. There are some brilliant sequences, really brilliant, almost worth watching the over-hyped and overlong film for. They hint at how good the idea could have been: An action film/blockbuster than takes place in peoples minds. Thieves who steal information from inside peoples minds. A heist movie where they have to insert an idea into the marks mind. All good.

However the execution of the above is a vast failure.

People have said of Inception that it is somehow refreshing. That we don't get blockbusters with art movie ideas, with difficult concepts and existential elements. That Inception somehow changes the game.

I'm afraid it doesn't. The Matrix (and don't let the sequels spoil how good the original was) does everything that Inception tries to do, but it did so with style, originality and interest. Clever blockbusters have happened loads though, from Terminator I and II to LA Confidential. Inception isn't new. It isn't a game changer.

It also isn't as complicated as it wants you to believe. What it actually does is fail to explain things well. It thinks making things unclear can distract from When you boil it down it has lots of plot holes. It is generally very implausible.

That said all of this may be deliberate. I fear that it is. Take this review/analysis of Inception [WARNING FULL OF SPOILERS]:

Everything that review says seems likely to me. Nolan could very well have deliberately made things implausible and full internal logic for the reasons stated in that article. He may also have been trying to make a film about the process of making films. Crafting a clever metaphor for his own process.

The problem is that in doing so he has made a film that is indulgent and lazy. It would have been much better if he'd developed the idea for longer, researched his topic more, thought more about the effect of the film rather than the ideas he wanted to put in it. Boiled it down better. Stopped navel gazing.

The main problem with the film is that it isn't like a dream. It thinks it is, but it isn't. There is not enough surrealness. There is just lots of guns and chases. Is that what dreams are like? No. Dreams are much more interesting. There is loads of information out there about dreams that he could have fed into it, lucid dreaming, dream interpretation. All of that could have been great.

And why all the guns? Are they really that interesting? Surely you also dream about swords, about fish, about flying, about so many different things. And you accept them all because its a dream and we generally accept the logic of dreams. There are 3 beautiful bits that hint at what it could have been. 1. The sequence where Ellen Page redesigns the city in front of her using her imagination and making it not obey the laws of physics. 2. The fight sequence in a hallway where the centre of gravity keeps changing. 3. The sequence where gravity goes completely and yet various people need to be moved through space as if they were falling in order to wake them up.

We needed more of that and less Bond shoot outs. We needed fluidity, invention, imagination. We needed it to be a fucking dream.

The problem I think is that Nolan actually wanted to make a film about the subconscious. He wanted it to be all about moving through different levels of someones subconscious. Well that's a good idea too. So choose. Dreams or subconscious. And whichever you choose cut out all the guns. They aren't adding anything. The guns in the Matrix and Terminator and LA Confidential added something. Christ even the explosions in Robin Hood Prince Of Thieves add something.

If you are going to do it about different levels of the subconscious then it still has to be more interesting. You have to have different visual cues for the different levels, rather than colouring them all in a similar way. And crucially you have to think it through: Why would what happens to a body in one level have an affect on it in another level but not to the body in the next level... etc...

Inception to me was like District 9, full of great ideas that weren't thought through fully. However District 9 was a much more satisfying watch.

I was bored in this film.

I think a better film could have been made with 45 mins of action cut and more work done on the dreamscape and its logic.

I also think the idea could have been much better realised over a TV series, which would allow the sort of character development and narrative depth that an idea with this sort of potential deserves.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Unknown Music Review 5: Betty and the Werewolves: Teatime Favourites

"I don't want dinner and a movie. I just want someone that'll move me." - Euston Station
(As with many of this series of Unknown Music Reviews I have a connection to someone in this band. That's an inevitable part of the process since many of the pile of CD's that I'm working through have been purchased from friends and acquaintances.

So I happen to be friends with Emily who plays guitar and provides one vocal in the wonderful Betty and the Werewolves. That's the disclosure out of the way.)

Betty and the Werewolves play punk influenced indie pop. They do so very deliciously. I am very much a Fan with a capital F. They've enchanted me ever since I saw them play live last year. It's a sweet pain when you're a musician and you're friend has a great band and great talents. You are pleased, excited and also jealous to fuck. This happens to me far to frequently. And with B&tW I get it the pain and joy in endless waves because they really are terrific.

They have the bouncing danceable beats of the first Futureheads album and that's a good reference point for Teatime Favourites, both albums are perfect for long distance drives in a car or for putting on when everyone gets to the dancing drunk stage of a house party. Both albums have great lyrics and great harmonies, and are filled with energy and distance. Both have lots of tracks (Teatime Favourites has 14 all together) but all of them are short (the album comes in at 39.33). There are some filler tracks (for me) on the album, maybe it could have been chopped down to say 11 or 12, but having said that I suspect the tracks that feel like filler now are more likely to be growers rather than show-ers! Already the last track Hyacinth Girl for example has been worming its way into my heart from a meh, to a mmm.

The album is full of singles and much of it would work as the score of a Tarantino film, with the sort of licks and grooves that infuse his films being the guitar hook in many of the tunes. The two vocalists really compliment each other, dancing around each other with Cranberries style harmonies and occasional melodic shouting. Laura provides a perfect Dubstar/Black Box Recorder style reverberant distance, with Emily providing a warmer touch. There's a Smiths feel to what they do, there's a touch of the early Doves and they have some Buzzcocks syncopation going on.

The band are obviously enjoying themselves and it comes through on the recording. The record captures everything that's great about them live and adds extra resonances. They have great keyboard sounds, fantastic drumming, riffs galore, ace solos and most importantly they have great lyrics, they have darkness, light, fun and games.

I imagine everyone will mention in reviews that they are formed of three women with a man on drums. Which is, of course, both completely irrelevant and absolutely essential to what makes them great.

The band have a distinctive stance and sound. They have some great things to say about the world. And they are hungry for it. And they are doing it now.
"I'm obsessed with a piece of plastic... My plan for the future is to have some pieces sewn into my face" - Plastic
My stand out tracks are: Plastic, Euston Station, Paper Thin, Francis and David Cassidy.

The only real criticism I have is that I don't like the title font used on the front of the album. And I'm not too keen on the video for Paper Thin (though I love the song).

Buy there album it's available from Damaged Goods. You can also find them on Itunes and Twitter and Spotify and Last FM and Facebook and probably on the radio right now!!!

Betty and the Werewolves - live - 2 of 3 from Joseph O Hughes on Vimeo.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Unknown Music Review 4: Cautionhorses: ONHO 4-Track EP

Cautionhorses are a punk rock band from Chichester. They are exploring a heavy edge, Joy Division/Devo/ Pixies influenced musical language with a humorous and politically formed lyrical approach. Their songs build constantly, keeping you on the edge of a musical orgasm and then slapping you back just at the last minute.

This 4 track EP is a bargain at £3. Their previous self-titled 7 Track EP is also available for £5. I suggest you buy them both. They will make you jump around the room, move your head about and smile. Both are available on their myspace.

Although the new 4 track doesn't quite hit the levels of either Meat or Strobes from there first EP, all the tracks are solidly good (whereas the 7 track does have a couple of tracks that strike me as filler). The stand out track on this one is Music As A Weapon with its playfully Sesame Street/Johnny Cash/Guantanamo Bay references and catchy melody.

The best Cautionhorses tracks deserve to be heard by a wider audience as they are simply brilliant and their worst are not as bad as most music you'll hear on the radio. They have a style and personality that is fully formed and unique. Their albums are beautifully designed works of DIY stencil art and they're very visually engaging both in live performance and in the pictures and photographs they use to create their online presence.

As you can gather from above I've seen them live (I know them a bit personally, albeit originally through a mutual friend) and they're very very tight and very very good. They don't appear to have any gigs in the pipeline at present but if you ever get the opportunity to see them DO IT.

Cautionhorses mix of anger and humour with danceable textures and awesome riffs is exactly what you want when you want to listen to loud music and thrash around your front room.

Recommendation/Review: Amanda Palmer Performs The Popular Hits of Radiohead on Her Magical Ukulele

I really really like what Amanda Fucking Palmer (as she often calls herself) is trying to do with this EP: Amanda Palmer Performs The Popular Hits of Radiohead on Her Magical Ukulele.

This new approach coming from some bands and artists to selling things directly to the audience is fantastic. These attempts by artists (and so far they are generally only "successful" attempts if, like Palmer, they already have a high profile) to be truly independent from labels. To really try and do things for themselves making use of the amazing hopes and possibilities of the internet. It is great from an philosophical perspective: it's what music and art and life is and should be about. It is also great from a ideological perspective as it takes the money away from the bastards. But also it is great from the musicians personal perspective, in an industry that is becoming increasingly powerless and unconnected from the way audiences can and will consume it.

She is giving this EP potentially away for free (well you have to pay 0.84¢ to cover the costs of paypal and paying Radiohead). You can choose to donate more. And you can also pay a lot more for very special personalised "bundles" containing painted Ukulele's, personal phone calls from AFP. She'll sing Haiku's you wrote. And bundles themselves are very interesting new ways for artists and fans to connect (here's another interesting bundle approach).

AFP really gets my good will and respect for this:

is download the music for free, have a friend email it to you, or otherwise own it and enjoy it without paying for it.
honestly, that’s no skin off my back. if radiohead doesn’t KNOW (and neither do I) that you’re downloading this music, i don’t have to pay their publishing fee.
and i’d rather you have this music than not have it. so go ahead and take it from the cloud. yay.
She is fully giving her music, her work, to her fans and asking and offering them the chance to collaborate with her and engage with her. They are her publicity machine, through her blogging, her twitter and her facebook. Word of online mouth spreads this around. She did a live webcast/party offering her fans even more. Making the EP an event. Making it something special.

I don't have much money at present and so only paid the minimum price. And that is really worth paying.

The tracks themselves are varied in how much they work for me. But the ukulele adds wonderful new connotations to the radiohead tracks and when they worth they really work. But don't take my word for it. Why not have a listen:

<a href="">Fake Plastic Trees by Amanda Palmer</a>

For my mind Idioteque from Kid A is the real stand out cover. It is the perfect meshing of the uke sound with the source material, probably because its where the gulf seems greatest. It's interesting as well because the lyrics are more audible and so add new levels to the original. High and Dry is also great and Fake Plastic Trees, whilst not being very different in feel to Radioheads still benefits from the high end uke and female voice.

No Surprises failed to work for me, something about the vocal delivery I think. And Creep (Hungover at Soundcheck in Berlin) was shaping up as an amazing cover but loses it with too much pantomime (at least in the way it sounds) emotion at the end of the song.

But over all some great tracks and a great approach. Both deserve respect and support.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Unknown Music Review 3: The Sequins: The Risky Woods

The Sequins lead singer sounds a lot like Feargal Sharkey (former lead singer of the Undertones) which is the first thing that hits you when you hear them. However he has developed his vocal delivery on this EP and the vocals seem to sit in the music better rather than dominating it as I felt they did occasionally on their previous CD The Death Of Style.

The Risky Woods EP is engaging danceable indie pop. The Sequins have created nice atmospheric landscapes around a mix of choppy and warbling vocal lines. A gentle but thoughtful record, that would work nicely played when sitting in a park on small tinny speakers. Despite having a gothic tone to the sound and the EP artwork it really came across as a summer record to me. Maybe that's the sun shining outside my window, but I think its more to do with the twinkly guitar bits and the way the bass and drums are often swinging the music along.

The lyrics are evocative and thematically linked in to the sound of the music. They didn't grab me with a wow factor but they didn't stand out as being bad. They serve the music and vibe well, occasionally being a bit wordy for my tastes.

The EP hangs together nicely, although each track adds a new flavours, from the Tarrantino faux western style of Space Travel In Your Blood to the Gothrock distortion driven The Chiming Bells, they fit together really well as a set.

The stand out musical moments were the sweeping building All That We Know with its tasty synth parts and creative use of wah wah sound. And the dual vocals of the last track Offside and Beautiful.

The addition of these deeper vocals is a great companion to the lead singers voice which is very high end. I think that using dual lead vocals and dueting lead vocals on their songs is something the band should consider doing more frequently. There are strengths to high end voices (many of my favourite vocalists such as Darren Hayman or Bernhard Sumner have very high end voices) but it is nice to have the whole range covered and would make their sound more distinctive.

It took too long for the secret track to kick in at the end (although at least it was a separate track, I always hate it when its attached to the last track). It yielded a very nice instrumental haunted house style track. This track was really nice and I thought it could have been used as either an intro track to the album or a straight last track. I couldn't really see why it had been positioned as a secret/bonus track.

The Sequins are Talking Heads meets The Smashing Pumpkins with very occasional touches of Antony and the Johnsons.

A pleasant 5 songs to kick back to in the sunshine with some nicely danceable moments. Good work and definitely worth getting if you're into tight and engaging Indie music with gothic/dramatic undertones.

[Disclosure: I went to primary and part of secondary school with the bass player.]

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Unknown Music Review 2: Driftless Pony Club: Expert

Driftless Pony Club's lead singer Craig Benzine is YouTube's Wheezy Waiter. Many episodes of which I would ambiguously recommend it . He is also in the very excellent (and committed because its a DIY television show made by "amateurs"): Platoon Of Power Squadron.

That's how I found out about their music.

I bought this album on the strength of a few tracks I'd heard.

Musically and lyrically they seem very influenced by REM, They Might Be Giants and Guided By Voices and Dookie era Green Day. And those are good influences to seem to have. At its best this Expert achieves some of the oblique pleasures of a Stipe chorus or the energised smirk of a verse of Basket Case. It isn't afraid to rock either and has a pretty hard edge, at times so hard that it is an intense listen.

The album has a lot of space between vocals and that space is packed tightly with a lot of musical ideas. When this works it works well, allowing the words to breathe and adding to the journey the song takes you on. When it doesn't work however it is like a smear obscuring what the song is about, distancing the song from the audience. (I almost said a smear on the window of the song but it sounded just too stupid... however I liked the image so much I had to mention it in these brackets.)

When they are "smeared" the songs become hard to relate to. It's the prog mistake; getting so interested in experimentation and variety that you lose a clear sense of what the core of the song is. They are stimulating their own minds but not the minds/hearts of the audience.

But even when the songs don't fully work they have their moments. The hunger that for variety that DPC seem to have means there are always good bits to recapture your attention.

When the songs work they really work. Legends Of Archery, Maps Of Low Fidelity and Thanks, Earthquake are excellent, full of bounce, great melodies, intriguing and moving lyrics and engaging musical variation.Those are the stand out tracks, but then since the album is 6 songs long this means half of it is stand out good, and the other half is getting there.

Benzine has a great voice and the production is really nice, the drums sounding particularly fine. I felt that the songs should have had a little more space between them, no songs apart from the last one have a moment for you to clear your palette. Sometimes running songs seamlessly into each other can work, but on this album it doesn't, what it means is the ends of the songs don't have the impact they require.

It's a good CD to have on in the background at a party and those three songs are great. They sound like a band really working themselves out, really hungry for making good songs and making good music. This album has some great songs on and they are worth the price of admission. However half of it could be improved on. But that's how I feel about most albums.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Unknown Music Review 1: Terror Pigeon Dance Revolt! (Album Title Too Long For Twitter)

The title of this album is ridiculously/brilliantly: I love you! I love you! I love you and I'm in love with you! Have an awesome day! Have the best day of your life!

This encapsulates the manic energy, the on the edge manic euphoria of the album.

I was scared to listen to this album because I loved iotdwykirthbr (The Terror Pigeon Dance Revolt – Iotdwykirthbr) SO much that I didn't want the album to let me down. I bought it though, because I wanted to hear it through good speakers for the first time.

That's why its the first of the pile I am listening to. Despite the band being better known than many of the bands I will be getting to in future weeks.

This band is truly amazing. They're an intense experience though, and possibly not a pop one, but they really do it for me. They mix a really echo filled electronic landscape with multi vocals and frantic multi instrumental jams. Generally they hang the sound round a single hook/phrase and they build it up and down and add in other counter hooks over moments. Whilst frequently very positive and love filled everything has dark or desperate edge to it, mixing with the longing and the love. What hangs it all together is a really fantastic rhythm section beneath it all, great drums and epic bass sounds.

The lead singer sounds like Kermit the frog and that is a very good reference point to the album. It feels like it has been made by muppets, sad muppets, muppets with broken hearts. They are a dance and party band but they have great lyrics.

The album and the band really create beauty from chaos, they are a concept as much as anything, a band that includes its audience in itself, that comes at things from a anarchic point of view and yet somehow still manages to work cohesively as a single entity.I think this is because whilst the album and their live shows are really just big parties they are all singing the songs authored by one man.

They are like an amateur choir that has been slipped Ecstasy tablets, they are like a class on the last day of term afraid and excited by the future and their youth, they are just really really fucking good.

I wish I was in that crowd. I wish I was in that band. But by listening to this album really loud and dancing around my front room I can feel like I am for 34 mins and 21 secs.

Unknown Music Reviews: Introduction

Over the last year or so I've still been buying CD's but there has been two significant differences

1. I have only been buying unsigned or not yet very well known bands on CD because I believe in supporting artists at the bottom but not at the top. Some of these bands have friends or acquaintances in them. Others I have just come across and liked a lot.

2. I haven't been listening to the CD's.

The reason I haven't been listening to the CD's has been that I use Spotify and YouTube to listen to all my music.

But this pile of lovely CD's, with beautiful artwork, often put together by their makers hands rises on my shelf. It is beginning to tower over me.

Some of those CD's I've heard bits of on myspace or on spotify or I've heard some of the stuff live. It's time to do them properly. Do them the way I've done Ida Maria and the XX. Time to listen to them from beginning to end and decide what I think.

So I'm going to do one a week. And review them on this place where I post occasional reviews anyway.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Recommendation: WetDog and Betty and the Werewolves

Last Thursday I went to see the amazing amazing Betty and the Werewolves last thursday. It was there single launch.

Supporting them were WETDOG who I heard for the first time and who really blew me away. They sound good recorded but they even better live. My current favorite of their tracks is Lower Leg, but I'm only just starting to find out about them.

Betty and the Werewolves consist of three girls with a boy on drums. They play poppy punky uptempo music with luscious harmonies, delightful guitar riffs and occasional keyboard (the bass player swaps between bass and keys sometimes mid song.) You can currently buy them through Itunes or on Vinyl (one extreme to the other!!) but next month they will be releasing an album that will be gettable on CD).

Wetdog are an all girl three-piece with a real punk spirit and a flare for exciting and engaging stagecraft playing urgent danceable delights. Their tunes are really inventive and their moves are really well thought of. The drummer and bassist swap over for some songs and the lead singer does an awesome Tambourine when not playing one of the best looking guitars I have ever ever seen (a home made looking square with a slide holder).

Both bands are available to hear on spotify. Here are some starting points:

Wetdog – Lower Leg

Betty And The Werewolves – David Cassidy

Wetdog – Zah Und Zaheet

Betty And The Werewolves – Plastic

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Review: Doctor Who

Okay so I've now watched enough of these new doctor who's to give my considered opinion. Generally it is almost good but never manages to be more than almost!

Disclaimer: I haven't seen any Eccelston ones. I saw the Christmas specials with the Being John Mastervich stuff happening in it. I saw bits of the programmes leading up to the doctors change over and the last four of this new series.

So I have to admit there may be hidden gems and it could have started really good and got more and more mediocre.

That said here's my opinion based on what I've seen.

The writing keeps it always in a light place. There is little depth created in any of the characters.

The doctors are all great actors and many of the bit parts are played by great actors. So the flaw really must be in the directors and writers, because generally the acting is a bit off. The scripts are riddled with cliched characters.

The scenarios however are often pretty good and sometimes really good. It is this that led to me watching more than I intended. All the doctors are full of charisma and the new way of treating the subject, post Buffy, does lead to a much better idea of the doctor as a character.

The new assistant Amy Pond is a really annoying character and the woman who plays her is a pretty bad actress.

Although as mentioned it could just be that she is asked to perform badly.

The performances tend towards pantomime rather than real. And that's the main problem, the programme is very shallow and lacking in truth.

The guest parts are generally there only to play a part in the doctors drama, they just slot into sidekick roles and they are all far too quick to accept the strange world.

I've heard this defended as being because the show is designed to be a children's show. But its meant to be watched by all the family and anyway I don't like that attitude to children's work. There is nothing to stop kids programmes having an engaging level of truth and real darkness and lights.

The trouble with it is that the good ideas and the good actors, make it annoying that it doesn't fulfill its potential.

I'm not really a fan of its source material, although because that tried to be less it succeeded more, however many of the problems with doctor who come from there. The sonic screwdriver and everyone speaking english wherever they go just seem far too easy... by bringing up the levels of realism and quality of the ideas it simply exposes the ideas kept from the original series as being hokey.

And they should never touch Van Gogh again, the level of annoyingness of that episode, and I am biased since he is my favorite painter and I know about his life, but still the whole episode was so ridiculous and wasted, even though it had the great and very simple idea of having him be taken to the present to see himself in art galleries. But that idea was the really good one and should have really been explored: did that make him kill himself? how does he feel about his commercialisation, mass production, his diaries being published... etc... And since his character was sanitised and not really developed we couldn't truly care for him anyway.

That's an example of the missed opportunities the show has. That episode was unlucky as it only really had one in it (which is disguised by all the attempts to be clever about van gogh) other episodes have a much higher quota of good ideas, but still overall its a wasted opportunity.

I can understand why its so popular, it draws on a nostalgic feeling for its source and mixes it with a modern sensibility, famous and loved character actors in bit parts, attractive and charismatic leads, clever ideas, occasional funny lines.

But for me it could have been so much more, and I wonder if people wouldn't actually prefer a better option if they were presented with one. There is so little great British TV, so few ambitious programmes, that we latch on to anything half decent out of hunger. I understand that. But this works for me less than for example Being Human (which I've only seen series one of) which has better writing and acting, if much less broad appeal and production values.

I feel a similar way towards Life On Mars / Ashes To Ashes... that series was almost there but it never really fully hit it.

Review: Four Lions

Four Lions is a big disappointment, although it is worth seeing.

It's too easy and ducks all the difficult questions. As a comedy it doesn't have enough edge and as a drama it doesn't have enough truth. The family life is unbelievable. It doesn't even touch on religion properly. Too much of the humour is based on characters being stupid.

Chris Morris and the other great writers on it (peep show /thick of it) plus the very talented cast really missed a trick.

It could have been great, but instead it is "interesting" and is surprisingly, given Morris' flawless track record, a real cop out. Its clear that it was written by leftist atheists who don't really understand their subject despite doing a lot of research.

He has achieved his aim of a Dads Army treatment of terrorists. But I'm not sure the goal was a worthwhile one. Dads army at its best is much better. As was everything else Morris has done.

Ah well...