Thursday 17 December 2009

Bone Machine

"From the moment the roadies began assembling Dave Grohl’s drum-kit in a manner that resembled the construction of the Queen Mary on Clydeside, it was clear that power was going to be the watchword of last night’s Edinburgh appearance by Them Crooked Vultures, the supergroup that’s threatening to give the term a good name."

It’s been a week spent with the vultures. My interview with Them Crooked Vultures ran earlier in the week, and my review of Tuesday night’s Edinburgh show appeared on The Arts Desk the following morning. Read it all here.

Thursday 10 December 2009


"Hoop is one of those American artists who arrives with an immaculately unorthodox back story and a pleasingly askew world view. She was raised in a Mormon family in the California countryside north of San Francisco, and brought up on folk, opera and classical music; the brash blare of MTV was strictly embargoed. Instead, her mother tutored her in a formal choral style, teaching her to “sing the way a ballerina would dance”, as Hoop puts it."

Read my interview with the beguiling Jesca Hoop here.

Wednesday 9 December 2009

Southern Comfort

The Oxford American’s annual "Southern Music Issue" is a reasonably big deal in the States, and I was very pleased to be asked by the magazine’s editor Marc Smirnoff to contribute this year. I wrote a page about Chris Denny, an Arkansasian with a truly amazing voice and a neat line in country flavoured roots music. You can hear his stuff at his website.

Regardless of my own contribution, I throughly recommend that you buy the music issue (if you’re not based in the States you can buy an exceedingly cheap annual digital suscription by going here), because it's chock full of fine writing and comes with two CDs of superb music, new and old, many by artists I've never come across before. The website also features Q&As with all the writers in the new issue, including myself. If you can stand extreme close-ups and smart arsed flippancy, click here and scroll on down.

Tuesday 8 December 2009

The Arts Desk

I want to take the opportunity to plug an excellent new online destination for culture vultures. The Arts Desk launched a couple of months ago, with the intention of addressing the decline in arts reviews and features in the traditional broadsheet print media, hastened by falling budgets and increasing space restrictions. So far, it seems to be going great guns. The site is full of established names, it updates several times a day and over the weekend, and most event reviews are online by first thing the following morning.

I reviewed Lau’s recent Edinburgh show for them. The gig finished at 11pm on a Saturday night and the review was online by 7am on Sunday. Just like the old days. You can read it here.

Friday 4 December 2009

Same Again?

“Until now, musical sequels have been relatively rare, for which we must give thanks. The only thing less alluring than Tubular Bells is Tubular Bells II. Bat Out of Hell was a jolly neo-goth rock monstrosity first time around, but by 2006's Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster Is Loose, Meat Loaf was trapped in an Escher-like vortex of self-parody, nu-metal nightmares and nasty legal niggles with his Dr Frankenstein, Jim Steinman.” I’m blogging over at the Guardian today on the subject of musical sequels. Pop over and let me know which albums you’d like to see reprised.

Wednesday 2 December 2009

The Final Word

“Beautiful like a building on fire or a dog in the rain…”

The new issue of The Word is now at large, boasting an extremely meaty and typically erudite overview of the past decade. My contributions include a meeting with Them Crooked Vultures, who explain why they want to “roll in like Hannibal and ruin your town.” I also chat Katrina, Obama and Madonna with esteemed producer Joe Henry, and review the brilliant new album by Cymbals Eat Guitars, alongside new records by the Dutchess And The Duke and Laura Viers and a holster full of The Gun Club reissues. There has genuinely never been a better time to subscribe.