Scoville Units Unite

31 Jan

CPRW Vinyl Challenge January 2021

I tend to avoid these thing a day events as I usually am not motivated by them. I’m conscious though that I spam pictures of records but generally before I’ve heard them so can’t really say much yet. Something to motivate me to look back at some music and write about it is probably good, as I normally just do 1 line at the end of the year if it fits. So, here’s a rundown of what I picked for the #cprwvinylchallenge2021 organised by Colin on Instagram who runs a great blog as well as other online stuff.

So I tried to set some groundrules for myself:
1. Try to stick to the letter of the rules as much as possible
2. Try to stick to the spirit of the rules as much as possible
3. Each artist once only
4. Well actually real punk is
5. Vinyl Only
6. Try to avoid records I have gushed about a lot (I break this once I think)

Ok, number 4 is a joke, based on gate-keeping arseholes. I would argue my pick for day 2 is very punk. I’m sure others would insist it has to be a band of musicians who conveniently look like them and play music they like. And music they dislike is what makes the not-punk list. But no-one cares about those losers opinions.

I listen to lot’s of types of music, it just so happens it’s mainly punk acts who I go to see live, and the challenge is run by a punk blog so that’s what’s gonna dominate but not be exclusive in the list.

The method of picking artists was steered by my discogs catalogue though, which forced me in some picks. I am trying to go through and re-listen to everything I own and grade it so I can then decide what to keep etc. They store an integer 1-5 rating so I use these as:
5: could listen to this any time
4: really good
3: ok and listenable
2: poor, unlikely to re-listen
1: garbage

So when a day asks for “best album of x year” I sort by rating and look for 5-star in that year etc. There are some complications though. I have a huge chunk of music on CD and not Vinyl including things I would have picked in this list. As I am re-listening there are things I haven’t got to yet. And worst of all, I have a bunch of re-issues and discogs is poor at showing you “your record is from 2020 but the original was 1991” etc. As my backlog is so large I also have music which came out last year which I haven’t listened to yet which then skips the yearly round-up post etc too.

Jan 1: Debut Album

Luniz – Operation Stackola.

So I decided to just completely break the rules on day 1. First the justification, and then the explanation.
The alternatives I had were chosen for days 8, 9 and one I posted about a lot very recently. I include I think 4 rap records and this is the first of them.

As a kid I didn’t really listen to music. The first stuff we listened to I think were a Best of Rap compilation, Snoop Dogg Doggystyle and then this. Next up was Method Man – Tical which was mind-blowing and if I had on vinyl would have immediately grabbed this spot. So I have always had a soft spot for this album.

On a re-listen there are parts which definitely have not aged well. Particularly Pimps, Playas & Hustlas, She’s Just A Freak etc. But when you listen to 900 Blame A N**** about harassment for racist cops in league with white supremicist. Fuck sake. After the 2020 we just had and this was 1995 and it could have just been written last year.

Jan 2: Concept/Themed Album

Citizen Bravo, Raymond MacDonald And Friends ‎– Return To Y’Hup The World Of Ivor Cutler.

I struggled with this one as I don’t think I have many concept albums except Deltron3030 which I had re-posted a few days before the challenge began. Then I remembered this, and struggled to find where I had filed it. I mentioned in my 2020 In Music round-up that this was one of the first releases of last year coming out in January.

I had found Ivor Cutler through a workmate who was obsessed with the bizarre and surreal lyrics of the genius.

This is a collection of most of the big indie artists in Scotland covering or re-interpreting his work. It’s really really good, especially the cover of Women Of The World Take Over

Jan 3: Three Colour Vinyl

De La Soul ‎– 3 Feet High And Rising.

Another I really struggled with. There’s categories for splatter vinyl coming up etc, but it’s the closest I could get with 3 colours. This is the Vinyl Me Please remastered reissue.

In the rap world at the end of the 90s there were 2 important movements. One towards the gangsta rap of NWA etc, and one towards the more conscious rap. This album was instrumental in birthing that era. Mostly written and recorded when the group were teenagers at school, it contains so many samples that it very rarely gets repressed due to the issues trying to clear them all. So as well as the beginning of an era it also really marked the end of that era of hip hop which took music from everywhere and reforged it into new art freely.

Jan 4: Favourite Album Of 2020

Charmpit – Cause A Stir.

Probably no surprise to anyone who has heard me talk about this record. I don’t think it was even close and never even considered another candidate. I have a kind of weird interaction with new music/live acts. I try not to listen to music by a new band before I see them live due to a couple of poor experiences (one of which will come up later) where the recorded music was excellent but the live show poor. Similarly if I am sent a download code for a purchased record I don’t listen to it before the physical one arrives, which gets the first listen.

I had known there was a record coming out due to receiving the download code but hadn’t listened to it yet. Due to lockdown, Specialist Subject started a series of live-streaming events. I turned in just in time to catch the start of Charmpit. I quickly checked, yeah that’s the act I hadn’t heard anything by yet.
They then started doing covers of pop songs with costume changes during and between the songs just full of infectious energy. That carries over into their own music which was a breath of fresh air when it arrived.

Seriously, I can’t wait to get to a gig again. And I cannot wait to see this band live.

Step 1: Find a friend, JUST ONE, and they’ll have a friend
now that’s 3 of you, in a band
of course you can!

Part B: Pick a name, CUZ THAT’S FUN
have a vision and run with it
to open arms and ears.

First Time ya step on the stage
the right time, to make loads of mistakes
cuz that’s being a punk, and BEING A PUNK IS tons of FUN!

We couldn’t do it ourselves so we’re doing it together!

Dreams you’ve been holding onto forever and ever..

We couldn’t do it ourselves so we’re doing it together!

Oooooo if your first song smells it’ll just get better…

We couldn’t do it ourselves so we’re doing it together! (x2)
Weeeee!

Jan 5: 12th Album On Your Shelf

Paris ‎– The Devil Made Me Do It.

Another hip hop act in the list, and here due to the spirit and letter of the law. “shelf” implies one. I currently have 5 shelves of records plus the boxes of 7s etc. When I checked 12 in on each shelf, there was an artist who I had to include later due to the few choices I had (although the pick for them would have been preferred). The other candidates were records I had very recently posted about or just singles which were meh.

Another conscious act, with political lyrics influenced by the Black Panthers and Nation of Islam.

The first single was banned from MTV, because of course it was.

Jan 6: No Members Identify As Men

Cayetana ‎– Nervous Like Me.

I later realised this sadly counts for Hiatus too :(.

This category I struggled with for a bunch of reasons, I’m not gonna excuse that but will try to contextualise/explain it.
Firstly punk-rock is a total sausage-fest. I mean there’s no denying that, and it means most groups are 3 men. So yay for this category to try and promote others.
But the biggest is that I’m pretty ignorant of who is involved in music I listen to. One of the reasons I spend time on Discogs catalogueing stuff is to try and learn some info. But I have albums I love and I couldn’t tell you the names of the artists involved, or what they looked like. For this (and another later) I had to scour through albums I loved and then look at the names/photos and make a judgement over if they counted. For many there were no photos, or website links, or more importantly – statements from the band saying what their pronouns were etc. There are some albums I considered but when checking I saw that although it was a woman singer and guitarist it was a guy on drums etc, and I didn’t know beforehand. Other groups had large lists of members and some groupshots showed all women, but others had men, and I had no idea the line up on the record I had as it didn’t credit the performers.

If you also struggled with this category please go watch So, which band is your boyfriend in?. I’ll be honest that I started with some acts from it, but the ones I had music of had men involved.

Jan 7: Stunning 7″

The Bombpops – Dear Beer

I very briefly said at the time, but I was pretty underwhelmed when I saw the band live. I hinted at it earlier, partially because I saw some videos and heard the album first. And Fear Of Missing Out was very good, I considered for debuts. But the live show I saw them at really soured me on them a bit. It was about 50% music and 50% stage banter/talking about drinking. I know nothing about the band though so could be they were just super excited to be on a European tour and were thrilled at being able to drink under the US age or something? I would definitely go see them again to see if it was a one-off.

Jan 8: Pretty Vinyl When Spinning

Save Ends ‎– Warm Hearts, Cold Hands.

One of the few albums I have briefly taken the time to write about. This album is incredibly good. But top tip: buy their music direct from the band, there were reports of the label they released some stuff on not paying artists properly.

Jan 9: All-Time Classic

Jurassic 5 ‎– Jurassic 5.

Another consideration for best debut. When this was released I had started to lose interest in hip hop. There were a few artists I still followed but others I later loved I hadn’t found yet (The Roots etc) and some I had loved had started releasing really poor records (thanks No Limit Records), and others were now dead (rip 2Pac).

Then this album came out and sounded like a fusion of conscious and old school hip hop opening with In The Flesh

Cause it’s the J-U-R-A
Capital S another S-I-C
5 MC’s in the flesh

And the absolutely genius Concrete Schoolyard

I live in America but fuck this Government

I have so many memories tied to this album, from constantly playing it in college and uni to tracks from it being played at Coalesce.

Jan 10: Album That Turns 10 in 2021

Juffage ‎– Semicircle.

I really struggled for a pick here with only this category, only other candidates were 2 Miles Davis and a Deftones covers album making the grade.

I saw him live around the time the album came out with Esperi and was blown away by how great he was.

Earlier this year I re-listened to this, having forgotten how good it was and checked out the rest of his catalogue. The Juffage bandcamp had a bunch of stuff including some physical releases. I ordered everything and received a wee note from him thanking me and including a bonus copy of his earlier bands work. Shows the real human interactions you can have with musicians and how much they appreciate you supporting them.

Jan 11: Splatter Vinyl

Shit Present ‎– Shit Present.

Opens with amazing vocals from Iona who appears on some Great Cynics releases too. Some contenders had been Rungs – Rungs EP, Stöj Snak – ScreamerSongwriter, Milk Teeth – Vile Child and The Offspring – Self Esteem

Jan 12: Live Album

Miles Davis ‎– Live-Evil.

Another category I struggled with, I ended up searching for albums with Live in the title which may have missed some with live tracks. I think most of the Live music I have is digital or CD only. Miles Davis has long been a favourite, and I’ve given out a fair few copies of Kind of Blue over the years to curious folks.

Jan 13: On Hiatus/Split-Up Band

Fugazi ‎– 3 Songs. I think the 13 Songs compilation is my favourite of their releases but without it on vinyl, I’ll go for their next EP.

Again, I struggled to pick a band on hiatus, some haven’t released music for ages (including one later which I originally had here til I checked) but finding info about their status is hard.

Jan 14: 10″

Broken Stories ‎– It’ll Be Alright.

Kevin and Gillian are geniuses and this EP is incredible. I still can’t believe they have only released 2 EPs, some of it being a rework of Kevins solo record. Incredible folk punk music. This record contains probably their 4 best songs. Hearing Playing On Repeat in a packed room, a week after the death of his friend it was written about and more of his friends in the room was heart-breaking. Track 1 Cabin Fever sums up the lockdown energy we’re all experiencing.

Isolated from the world,
Sitting here at home,
Vegging out all day

Jan 15: Split Record

Calvinball / ONSIND / Apologies, I Have None ‎– Calvinball / ONSIND / Apologies, I Have None.

I have so many split records, but this had to win just because three artists were all covering each others music, not sure if that sneaks into the concept category too. What made it weird for me was I only knew 2 of the bands so the tracks were a band I don’t know covering two tracks I know, then 2 bands I know covering a track of each other and of the new to me bands. Great way to hear music by a new artist and appreciate some tracks by bands you like.

Jan 16: Favourite Album Artwork

Flying Lotus ‎– Flamagra.

This had to win, no question. Pop up artwork – you don’t get that with your MP3 downloads. As much as I rave about how great vinyl is as a format, when it comes to art saying “it’s bigger” sounds a bit trite, so it’s amazing to see someone make full use of the format.

The Kamasi Washington ‎– The Epic boxset might have been a contender if one of the LPs in it wasn’t sealed behind perforated cardboard and cutting it out hadn’t splattered the record and everything else with shards of cardboard. Still furious.

Jan 17: Collection From One Band

3 Colours Red.

This was a difficult choice, as there are a bunch of artists I try to collect the catalogue of. For some of them the vast majority of the stuff I have is CD, or is not available on vinyl. I also considered picking them for the “3 Colours” challenge, cos puns are good and clever.

Although they have 4 albums, only 2 are on vinyl and I have them both so that definitely counts enough, especially as the later 2 aren’t anywhere near as good as the first 2. I have all their singles bar one which was CD only.

I’m sure I’ve shared this story before, but when seeing them at T in the Park it was absolutely sweltering. Starting to dehydrate a bit levels of hot. Then as soon as they started the first notes of Beautiful Day a rain shower started. Ending just as the song did. It’s probably the closest I’ve ever come to understand when people talk about spiritual moments.

Age Of Madness is an incredible song, and I love it. But just due to the story above:

Jan 18: Blue Vinyl

Muncie Girls ‎– From Caplan To Belsize.

Another contender for debut. I have a massive pile of blue vinyl (it seems a common choice), but this album is really really good punk. Being colour blind, blue is one of the few colours I can identify many shades of, so I appreciate nice blue vinyl in a way those of you with good eyes probably view most other colour variants. It’s also why I like splatter, because it’s easy for me to tell what’s happening apart, even if what I think is a red bit is a green bit :).

Jan 19: Signed Album

The A Forest / Mercury Tilt Switch ‎– Dialogue 4.

Ok, I admit this one is a bit of a stretch. It’s in the spirit but not letter of the rules. It’s not an album, and is a split where I have it signed by one band. But look how many of them there are – I have three copies. And I could tag some members of the band and make them laugh. 500 were made, no idea how many are signed, but I have 0.6% of the total pressings.

Jan 20: Album That Turns 20 In 2021

Roots Manuva ‎– Run Come Save Me. To be honest I think I prefer the Dub remix album (but only have it on CD), and posted recently so felt bad but wow. Unless discogs data is lacking, 2001 was a poor one for music. I had some CDs which would count, some re-issues and some compilations but this one kind of stood alone in my collection. Musicians 20 years ago – get your fingers our and make better music I like please.

Jan 21: Record Received As Gift

Dunderfunk ‎– Brick Cat EP.

Another category I struggle with. I’ve swapped tons of records. I’ve received tons of CDs as gifts. I’ve given away loads of records. But I couldn’t think of many I had received as gifts.

Jan 22: Hidden Gem

Kaddish ‎– Thick Letters To Friends.

What else could it be other than the best record ever to come out of Dundee, and limited to 300 pressings. They released a self-titled before this otherwise it would have been a snap inclusion for debut.

Jan 23: Band With POC Member(s)

Bullyrag ‎– Jump Up In A Fashion.

Another difficult one, I ended up scouring a bunch of artists profiles trying to see what they looked like. Another couple of contenders I queried friends as from photos it looked like they may count, but I wasn’t sure. Didn’t want to take the easy route and pick a hip hop group etc.

Jan 24: Picture Disc

Fun Lovin’ Criminals ‎– Scooby Snacks

I really, really don’t like picture discs. So only had a couple of candidates. Given the choice of inclusion the band which bridged me from hip hop to rock it was a no-brainer.

100% Columbian (their best album) was 12 in on my shelf, but had to be dropped to include this here. I’ve seen this band 20+ times live and every time their show has been great. Probably embedded from the first time I saw them live – on my 18th birthday. From Dundee to Glasgow, Edinburgh and Perth I’ve followed them round seeing them on almost every tour.

Does their live show always contain this song, their one hit wonder? Yes. Is it their best song? Not by a mile that would be Southside. They always had bizarre, amazing and original warm-up acts. The best of which was a busker from New York they brought on their European tour.

Jan 25: Your Favourite Lyricist

Rainer Maria ‎– A Better Version Of Me.

I thought they were a contender for hiatus (they reformed and then released nothing since, so not sure on status), and their Look Now, Look Again album is probably my favourite but the lyrics in Artificial Light, this albums opener, and the delivery are incredible.

No one defies artificial light. Simultaneous sitting ‘til you atrophy. Maybe you try to be pretty instead of kind. Why is this technology an anathema to me? If I could just breathe it out… I could always breathe back in. I’ll cut all your wires. I never cared. Cut all your wires. What can be there? It’s dead. And all the invisible arcs are caught in my head.

Why is this technology an anathema to me?. Are you kidding me? Beautiful.

Whilst chatting about music at work, we had the topic of favourite live set. I chose this Rainer Maria one as it was what I found after they had been on hiatus and let me know they were back. Someone replied that they would be watching it because they had been at the gig! The lucky sod.

Jan 26: Favourite Colour Vinyl

Franz Nicolay ‎– To Us The Beautiful.

Seeing Franz solo is always amazing. His recorded music is the opposite of the issue I mentioned above. I never find it enraptures me as much, maybe it’s the random skits, or full band or something. I don’t know. This was the first splatter vinyl I ever got so it feels right to give it pride of place here.

Jan 27: Future Classic (Last 3 Years)

Please, Believe! ‎– .​.​.​In Potential.

Live or recorded, this band are just amazing. This is an album I will be playing for years to come.

Some contenders – Muncie Girls – Future Ideals (above), Kaddish – What World Was Still? (above), Poverty Bar ‎– Vive La Bagatelle, Charmpit – Cause A Stir (above), Misfortune Cookie – Heavy Seas

Jan 28: Soundtrack

The Last Poets ‎– Right On! (Original Soundtrack)

Again, a bit barren, and many of the soundtracks I have I bought recently so didn’t want to post again (Dune etc).

But given the inclusion of a bunch of hip hop and jazz it felt fine to include a group who were a huge influence on many rappers.

Jan 29: Most Recent Purchase

Lande Hekt – Going To Hell.

This skirts the rules a wee bit. She appears in another act picked – Muncie Girls, and also another parcel arrived today with 2 records. But this came out this month, the other 2 were a 20 year old repress of People Under The Stairs and the much delayed vinyl release of Eminems latest. And unlike Lande, Eminem didn’t write a note thanking me for the purchase, not even as his Stan alter ego.

It’s something I mentioned in the entry about Juffage before too, but I love the connection that loads of the artists I enjoy have with their fans. Sometimes it’s some stickers chucked in, or a note, or like Deeker of MTAT sometimes scribbled messages checking you’re doing well on the record stiffeners etc.

Other records in the new pile, waiting to see which arrived last were Hamburger, some Michael Marra 7s and a big pile of Senser singles.

Jan 30: Album That Turns 30 in 2021

Green Day ‎– Kerplunk!.

Unlike some later years picks, this one was tough! This edged out over NWA – Efil4zaggin, Ice Cube – Death Certificate and The Jam – Greatest Hits. An amazing album, and is probably their second best. Behind Dookie. Obviously behind Insomniac

Jan 31: Band You’re Looking Forward To Releasing Music In 2021

Alldeepends.

I struggled with this just because I have no idea who is planning to or will release music this year. The first purchase of the year was Queequeg’s Coffin – Cú Beag about a minute after it went on sale but is not on vinyl.

But, I really anticipate another release by Alldeepends and hope one happens. Their Hello My Name Is is so so good, and if it wasn’t for the album part of the criteria on the 4th it might have slipped in. A 4 track EP they made videos for each track on. What the fuck. Cannae wait to be at one of their shows.

This is like how they make Star Wars now

This is Dundee

This is a park in Dundee (it’s a good park, go there)

This is the back of every show you’ve ever been to “we have merch thanks for coming, this is our last song”

Wait, how could you miss?

Due to the people who invented our terrible calendar that left me 31 artists to choose from (ok I broke that with the menagerie on the Cutler record) which meant a bunch are missing. Some I wanted to include, some people might expect me to include so I’ll mention a few here.

2Pac

So out of collection I considered 2Pac obviously. But at the time I collected most vinyl was disappearing from shops, and hip hop vinyl was even harder to find in the UK. So the massive collection I have is mainly CD, and I don’t have anywhere near as much on vinyl with some huge gaps. A physical collection doesn’t really do justice either given the various editions of the unreleased tracks, and the later re-edited tracks which came out etc.

His exclusion is one of the reason I included Paris though, to cover the same sort of genre of hip hop.

Jesus & His Judgemental Father

I really wanted to include these in the hiatus band, but Fugazi just won out due to the massive influence they had, and the impact their return would have.

Billie Holiday

If there was a category for best singer she would be a snap inclusion, I have maintained for almost 30 years that she’s the greatest singer to have ever lived. Even now, listening to Strange Fruit still sends shivers down my spine.

24 Dec

2020 In Music

Time for the almost annual and almost end of the year look back at music after 2019, 2018, 2017 and 2016.

Gigs

So I probably went to some gigs but it was last about 9 months ago and I can’t even remember. Fuck 2020. Fuck our governments at every level. Watching some musicians play in their living room wasn’t the same. I just want to go to a gig. And after a year of music venues being left to die Brexit’s gonna fuck over most bands I would give a shit about seeing from touring. Fuck 2020. Fuck our governments.

Music Shops

Grouchos closed. Fuck 2020. Thankfully the former staff went ahead and opened up a great new shop, Thirteen Records, in the now pedestrianised Union Street.

New Releases

I had the season tickets for Make That a Take and Specialist Subject again, but obviously due to inability for many bands to get into recording studios not as much came out as recent years.

Albums

2Pac ‎– Me Against The World – Finally got his best album on vinyl when the 25th anniversary rolled round.
AJJ ‎– Good Luck Everybody – Good folk punk album, the UK release caused some confusion for their archivist as their promo images didn’t reflect the release.
Alhaji (Chief) Prof. Kollington Ayinla And His Fuji ’78 Organisation ‎– Blessing – really cool afro-funk release. Yet again Soul Jazz with the obscure quality.
The Avalanches ‎– We Will Always Love You – way more laid back than their first album, and didn’t hear any stand out songs like Frontier Psychiatrist etc.
BadBadNotGood & Ghostface Killah ‎– Sour Soul – Repress of hip hop collaboration. Well worth checking out.
Matt Berry ‎– Phantom Birds – Pretty disappointing. I’d heard some music so had high hopes but it’s a bit meh. Can’t see me having the urge to listen again to be honest.
Bob Vylan ‎– We Live Here – Fuck yeah, Bob Vylan was one of the great finds of this year. Cool fusion of hip hop and punk.
Broken Social Scene – Live At Third Man Records – Great live album. I miss seeing them live. They were great live. Being in a room with musicians entertaining you is good. And important. Fuck 2020.
Charmpit ‎– Cause A Stir – The first time I heard anything by this band was the week before this was released as part of a livestreamed houseshow where they performed pop covers with costume changes. Simply amazing.
Cherbourg Harps Assembly ‎– Covered​-​19 (A Benefit Compilation for Willows Animal Sanctuary) – Seas, Starry subset released to make money for an animal sanctuary.
Citizen Bravo, Raymond MacDonald And Friends ‎– Return To Y’Hup The World Of Ivor Cutler – Absolutely massive collection of artists covering some songs by the oft-overlooked Ivor Cutler. Man 2020 started with a bang and was looking great for music.
Deftones ‎– Ohms – Surprisingly good recent album by band I’d skipped the past few of.
Dr Pish ‎– Popular Songs – If nothing else you should listen to Hings Vegans Might Eat. Best reaction I heard was “Is this Limmy having a mental breakdown?”.
The Duke Of Portland ‎– The Duke Of Portland – Pretty cool find of a previously unheard album. Some of the lyrics haven’t aged well but an important release.
Miles Davis ‎– Double Image // Rare Miles From The Complete Bitches Brew Sessions – rarities compilation for RSD by one of the most important jazz musicians.
Erica Freas ‎– Young – wonderful punk album by someone who takes part in the great Flick Through Podcast.
Frightened Rabbit ‎– The Winter Of Mixed Drinks – awesome repress with a live single.
Idlewild ‎– Captain – finally a vinyl release for the bands second best album. Waited a long time and it delivers.
Illuminati Hotties ‎– Free I.H: This Is Not The One You’ve Been Waiting For – pretty great indie release, found them via ppl-plzr.
June Of 44 ‎– Engine Takes To The Water – Another post-rock release for RSD.
June Of 44 ‎– Tropics And Meridians – One of the Record Store Day releases, class math rock.
Kaddish ‎– Two Demos – Kaddish got some physical copies made of their first demos on cassette. They, and everyone else noticed the stupid prices their first two LPs are selling for online too. Kaddish records, ecossemo pension funds.
Kerbdog ‎– Kerbdog – Repressed at last. Hopefully no more 3 figure ebay auctions for the originals now.
Kerbdog ‎– On The Turn – Finally a repress. Yes. 100%. Class, go buy it.
The Kimberly Steaks ‎– Confessions of a Justified Cynic – Weegievilles greatest Kerplunk-era Green Day tribute act.
The Lovely Eggs ‎– I Am Moron – pretty cool garage rock I found out through the Flick Through podcast.
The Menzingers ‎– Chamberlain Waits – a good punk release. On THIS RSD. Etc.
Muncie Girls ‎– B​-​Sides The Point – B-sides by one of SSR’s best bands.
Paper Rifles ‎– Traitor’s Hill – Second album by the band, pretty damn good, and been making some big lists for best albums of the year.
Paper Rifles ‎– Lockdown Covers – Not content dropping a studio album they also released a covers album. The Mel C and Bryan Adams song is a banger (featuring the awesome Beth from Slowlight). The Idlewild one is just perfect.
Pillow Queens ‎– In Waiting – Brilliant Irish band whose State of the State is definitely worth a look too.
Raised Fist ‎– Sound Of The Republic – Weird to spot some Hardcore record as part of Record Store Day. Pretty gid.
Refused ‎– Not Fit For Broadcast (Live At The BBC) – Live set released as part of Record Store Day. I love Refused.
Enrique Rodríguez & The Negra Chiway Band ‎– Fase Liminal – Chilean spiritual jazz. Really really good.
Jeff Rosenstock ‎– No Dream – anti-folk hero back with another banger after 2019s surprise day 1 release.
Scotland in the 80s ‎– The Dreary Heather Club – absolutely class folk album released by a geographically dispersed group of artists.
Gil Scott-Heron, Makaya McCraven ‎– We’re New Again (A Reimagining By Makaya McCraven) – really enjoyable jazz album.
Stöj Snak ‎– Life, Death And Everything In Between – Great follow up to the phenomenal debut album. It’s not as good, but most second albums aren’t.
Stonethrower ‎– Legacies – great ecossemo release with proceeds going to Rad Apples and a racial justice charity.
The Strangers Almanac ‎– Daisies of the Galaxy – Mr E “Mark Everett” Eels gets called out by local artist who clearly got ripped off by him and releases completely original album Mr Eels covered and made huge.
Wrest ‎– Coward Of Us All – great find of new Edinburgh band who are FRabbit-esque.

Various ‎– A Compilation Vol​.​2 – Another venue fundraiser. Fucking 2020. Fuck.
Various ‎– Blue Note Re:imagined 2020 – absolutely brilliant re-interpretation of Blue Note tracks.
Various ‎– Brazil Funk Power – Soul Jazz with a Brazilian Funk collection for RSD.
Stereo Verlag ‎– Die Stereo Hörtest-Edition Vol. IV Visions Of Jazz – really cool jazz compilation which came with a CD and download code, which I hadn’t seen before.
Various ‎– Dune (Original Soundtrack Recording) – RSD release of the Toto-centred classic. Picked up in eager anticipation of the 2020 release of the Dune part 1 film. Fuck 2020.
Various ‎– Furlough Your Dreams – SSR rarities available for 24hours, the cover of which was later released as a shirt.
Various ‎– Hidden Gems – Colin released a whole bunch of massive compilations this year, and I haven’t got them all but this was some great punk stuff.
Various ‎– Hope In The Face Of Fear – quality compilation of black metal artists.
Various ‎– Kaleidoscope (New Spirits Known & Unknown) – Soul Jazz Records history of releases is so good I blind-purchase every jazz release I see from them. Compilation of a bunch of contemporary jazz artists.
Various ‎– Lockdown Unplugged – another compilation for a mental health charity. See the theme this year :(.
Various ‎– Music Venue Trust – fundraiser compilation for venues abandoned for months by the clusterfuck government.

EPs and other stuff

Alldeepends ‎– Hello My Name Is – If you have this you know how amazing it is. If you don’t have this, you are wrong and should rectify it immediately. Short run of the physical release but digital purchases are infinite.
Biffy Clyro ‎– Moderns – Wasn’t please by price but got these covers of Frightened Rabbit on Record Store Day as it was funding for the great Tiny Changes charity.
Cherym ‎– Weird Ones – Cherym are great and I missed not seeing them at BYAF this year :(.
Concept Car ‎– Luxury Interior – Cool electronic EP after some tracks dropped one by one.
Gone Wishing ‎– Hidden Not Hiding – One of the first releases of the year.
Goodbye Blue Monday ‎– Self​-​Indulgent One​-​Take Woefuls – Acoustic versions of some of their great songs.
Lipsick! ‎– Sicksongs – One of the best bands Dundee produced had a bunch of their work put online by a bored member on lockdown.
The Marx ‎– Musk Family Emerald Mine – localish punk outfit with snazzy suits.
Min Diesel ‎– Mints – another hidden gem of the Scottish music scene. Get on it.
Order Of The Wolf ‎– Split With Pessimista – Another split by the great local black metal artist.
Seas, Starry ‎– Larsson Dreams of Germans / Hey Koala – Aberdeens finest with a couple of new tracks.
Spectral Child ‎– Moribund Kingdom – quality dark ambient release.
Spectral Child ‎– Isolationism – second release by them. Check them out.
Toodles & The Hectic Pity ‎– Ghosts, Guilt & Grandparents – pretty cool punk release from SSR.
Tragical History Tour / Order Of The Wolf ‎– To The Chaos – great split with a punk and black metal interpretation of the same track.
Woolen ‎– Wrap Up Warm, It’s Cold Out There – randomly found Fife emo. Fifemo.
Wrest ‎– A World That Has Left You Unspoken – lockdown ep by the Edinburgh based band.
Yndi Halda ‎– Acoustic – acoustic versions of some of the post-rock bands releases.

Music still in the ‘to listen’ pile/Other Music I discovered

My to listen pile is far far too big to even dig into. I finally managed to sort out my digital media library and am slowly working through listening to it. I still have a ridiculous pile of CDs to rip, and a massive pile of records to listen to and file. I also caught up with some of the backlog and listened to a bunch of stuff, but maintaining that list is just ridiculous so can’t be faffed. Near the heat death of the universe when I have listened to all the music I own I’ll do some “best music” type post to document stuff I love. Pinky promise.

Discogs

I submitted a massive amount of digital music to discogs over the year and was in the top 10 for the month for some months. This was a precursor to a project I kicked off but stalled with. It may become public next year but #effort.

Music goals for 2020

Started ripping more of collection as FLAC. Once I get through I will re-rip things I have as MP3. Also need to then sort and try to sell off the stuff I don’t like. That required actually listening to the music I own though…
Still have a massive pile of 12s to get through but the vast majority are sorted and I’ve made some passes through and sold off some stuff I disliked or had duplicates of.
Made some progress in my 7s. The awkwardness of listening to a track and flipping makes it difficult to do when reading a book etc so will probably get nowhere near completed until I’ve sorted through the 12s.

12 Sep

Goodbye Grouchos

After around 44 years, we heard the news yesterday which had seemed inevitable that Grouchos was closing for good.

Grouchos closed

Sadly, last year Breeks – the owner died. The year before the shop had also been at risk when it was thought the building it is in was being sold.

So when lockdown ended and it became one of the few shops to not re-open or post updates on social media it was pretty obvious that it looked to be in trouble.

As may be obvious from the main content of this blog now, Grouchos was a regular haunt of mine going back to the mid 90s.

I was too young to have been in the older Perth Rd stores, but had been in the cramped one under the Angus Hotel a couple of times. This was just when I was just getting into music though so I don’t remember buying anything from there. When they moved into the Overgate though I was in around 3 times a week. This shop seemed massive and was a total treasure trove for a teenager digging into tons of different genres at the time.

Later they moved to the final location on the end of the Perth Rd which again seemed like a big increase in floor space.

The vast majority of what I bought from Grouchos was probably CDs, closely followed by Records. I went through a period of raiding their DVDs for cheapo horror flicks and probably some old cassettes way back too.

Tickets for the occasional gig or festival were bought from there too, although most gigs I go to are pay on the door.

And then of course I bought a stereo from there at one point and recently a stereo.

They covered other things too though, posters, t-shirts, badges and local fanzines and magazines. It’s pretty fair to say they were a Dundee institution and most people in Dundee have stepped through their door at one point or another.

The one good piece of news from it though is that some of the staff are opening a new record store soon. Given it was their knowledge and expertise that made Grouchos work it seems fair to say the spirit of it will live on under a different name.

So for people in Dundee looking for music, what options are there?

Assai opened a few years back in the Ferry and have now moved into the city centre and expanded into Edinburgh too. Only selling new records, they have a handful of local-ish releaases, run a label to release some music, put on some local gigs and also sell some decent turntables etc too. They have a loyalty scheme which takes a little burn out of the premium you pay for some of their releases.

Le Freak Records opened a few years ago in a small unit on the Perth Rd near the Hawkhill junction. Almost all second hand with a small selection of new releases, they also support a bunch of local releases too and have a decent selection of Hip Hop and Jazz on occasion too. Definitely worth keeping an eye on their social media where they frequently post new acquisitions so you can call dibs on them.

Thirteen Records are still being renovated so not sure what they will stock yet, but quite hopeful given it’s the former Grouchos staff opening it. Definitely worth keeping an eye on.

HMV are the last major standing in the city. Virgin dying after putting all their eggs in the Woolworths distribution basket. Pretty large selection but definitely over-priced. Definitely one for impulse buys rather than bargains.

Oxfam is probably the best of the charity shops for music, also having a large selection of books. Definitely requires multiple visits to find the gems but sometimes you find some amazing stuff in there. The rest of the charity shops have a tiny selection, generally poor condition and you assume is what other second hand stores wouldn’t buy.

Record Fairs it’s unclear what’s going to happen with these, they have understandably been off for the past few months but it looks like one is scheduled for November. Some of the punters may need some education on social distancing though, as I grumble about the rude guy trying to dig into the same box I was already going through last time. Some stallholders only occassionally turn up, others have been regulars for decades. Definitely miss the pair from Aberdeen who used to have tons of imported hip hop, but recommend visiting Rob at 5050 who always has a great selection of Soul Jazz, alternative and Scottish releases.

01 Jan

2019 In Music

Time for the almost annual and almost end of the year look back at music after 2018, 2017 and 2016.

Gigs

Book Yer Ane Fest 2019 happened in a much smaller venue due to Abertay Union continuing to be a joke. Can’t organise a student pub. There were a ton of local gigs, with far fewer I was able to attend than I hoped. Savage Mansion were pretty cool. Tim Loud was awesome as ever. Get It Together had their LP launch gig. Poverty Bar and Min Diesel played an amazing gig. Kaddish played at least 3 times in Dundee, somehow. Queequeg’s Coffin launched their EP alongside Rag n Bone Man. Missed Fresh play, again, which was a bit gutting.

New Releases

Photo of top Instagram posts of 2019

I had the season tickets for Make That a Take and Specialist Subject again, and would heartily encourage anyone else to do so too.

This Way Up in Dundee were a source of a lot of new releases but they sadly closed the same month that Assai moved into the city centre. With a great range of weird and experimental music they are fast becoming a necessary visit when in the area. Grouchos is still the best second hand store in town although sadly Breeks died this year. Le Freak Records have been going through a massive collection from a DJ too which includes a huge amount of hip hop I’m working my way through.

Albums

Adult Magic – Adult Magic – great wee punk album via SSR.
American Football – American Football – LP3 from the most original album namers in history.
Asian Dub Foundation – Rafi’s Revenge – Great re-release of one of the best UK hip hop albums.
Bad Sleep – Self Titled – Every year there’s one release on Specialist I’m not sold on and this was it. Not for me.
Billy Bragg – Best Of Billy Bragg At The BBC 1983 – 2019 – pretty good compilation of live sessions.
British Sea Power – Disco Elysium OST – the atmospheric soundtrack to the surprisingly good game of the year.
Broken Social Scene – Let’s Try The After Vol 1&2 – Annoying way to collect these via Record Store Day but brilliant as ever.
Common – Let Love – Never a step wrong from Common. Well worth a listen.
De La Soul – 3 Feet High And Rising – VMP repress of the classic debut.
De La Soul – De La Soul Is Dead – VMP pressing of the great album by hip hop legends.
DJ Shadow – Our Pathetic Age – Fantastic new release from artist who always releases gems.
DOOM – Born Like This – Still can’t believe I ignored this artist for so long.
Experience Unlimited – Free Yourself – Another funk album which often came up in ‘crazy cover’ type lists which VMP repressed.
Flying Lotus – Flamagra – Jazzy hip hop release in a bizarre special edition release
Fresh – Withdraw – probably one of my favourite albums of the year – punk/emo on Specialist Subject Records.
Fun Lovin’ Criminals – Another Mimosa – Not bad for band going 25 years on from their one wonder hit.
Gang Starr – Step In The Arena – when an absolute classic gets re-released after almost 30 years and still sounds as fresh as ever.
Garden Centre – A Moon For Digging – pretty great weird pop indie from SSR.
Get It Together – Live Free – the best kind of hardcore that central Scotland can produce. Pure braw.
The Go! Team – Thunder, Lightning, Strike – Fifteen year anniversary release of the classic album. Strange how time has dilated and so many albums this year had 15/20/25 year anniversaries. Especially when some just came out a decade ago in the 90s…
Hovvdy – Heavy LIfter – Another great indie release from Specialist Subject.
Idlewild – Interview Music – After the last couple I was surprised just how good this album is. Obviously no Hope Is Important but far surpasses the other recent releases.
The Jam – Snap! – rerelease of the compilation that comes with the original 7″ which shipped too.
Jimmy Eat World – Surviving – pretty good 10th album, although nothing majorly stands out.
Jeffrey Lewis & The Voltage – Bad Wiring – Always been a fan of his live shows and this latest LP is a good effort for Mr AntiFolk.
Billy Liar – Some Legacy – Pretty strange hearing all these tracks together after hearing most of them live over the past few years.
Misfortune Cookie – Heavy Seas – Hadn’t seen these awesome folks til they headlined one of the days stages at BYAF. I had however seen most of them in other bands. All of which were as awesome as them. Pick up the album, it’s gorgeous and you won’t regret it.
The Murderburgers – What A Mess – turned out to be the final release from Fraser and his interchangeable ensemble of pals. RIP Murderburgers :(. Their final set was at Book Yer Ane Fest though so at least I saw them one last time before they called it a day.
Nat Turner Rebellion – Laugh To Keep From Crying – amazing release with an incredible story behind it. A total disappointment the direction Vinyl Me Please took not long afterwards.
Pixies – Beneath The Eyrie – Another surprisingly good release from a band that’s been going forever.
Please, Believe! – .​.​.​In Potential – They finally released a physical version early this year. Ecossemo. Get on it.
Queens Of The Stone Age – Songs For The Deaf – A much needed repress finally appeared of this impossible to find album on vinyl.
Thee Rag N Bone Man* – The Buckfast Holocaust – noisy one Man punk band.
The Roots – Things Fall Apart – 20th anniversary release of one of the best hip hop albums of all time.
The Roots ‎– The Tipping Point – 15th Anniversary re-release of their sixth album too.
Pharoah Sanders / John Hicks / Curtis Lundy / Idris Muhammed – Africa – another cracking jazz release from This Way Up.
Savage Mansion – Revision Ballads – pretty good alt-rock release on Lost Map.
Shhe – Shhe – Beautiful experimental album by localish Shhe.
Slingshot Dakota – Heavy Banding – And again, quit it SSR, you’re shaming fowk now.
The Specials – Encore – I was more impressed by this than I thought I would be.
Mark Stewart + Maffia – Learning To Cope With Cowardice / The Lost Tapes – Pretty weird industrial noise.
Scott Wainwright – Sentimental Debris – pretty great blues album by someone I had never seen until he played with Tim Loud.
Witching Waves – Persistence – It was disappointing to have a second meh-ish Specialist album but hey ho.
Woahnows – Young And Cool – pretty good noisy indie

Various – Congo Revolution (Revolutionary And Evolutionary Sounds From The Two Congos 1955-62) – another obscure collection of mid-century jazz which doubtless few people here heard at the time.
Various – Dae Yer Ane Sampler III – Everything that’s came out on MTAT in the last wee while.
Various – The Daisy Age – pretty great compilation of some early conscious hip hop.
Various – If You’re Not Part Of The Solution… (Soul, Politics And Spirituality In Jazz 1967 To 1975) – Pretty great Jazz release from Soul Jazz Records. Amazing how few of their releases have been misses.
Various – Space Funk (Afro Futurist Electro Funk In Space 1976-84) – Got a lot fewer Soul Jazz records this year with This Way Up closing. This was a strange release. Not sure if I’d recommend it but it’s certainly different.
Various – Tiny Changes: A Celebration Of Frightened Rabbit’s ‘The Midnight Organ Fight’ – Originally planned for the tenth anniversary of the albums release, it was delayed after Scott died. Some great interpretations of the tracks on it.

EPs and other stuff

The Cairngorms Young Team – Straight To Video – time for an electronic/chip tunes styl affair then.
The Cairngorms Young Team – Car Wash Variations 1 – Love Dies Here – trying his hand at experimental electronic goodness this time.
The Cairngorms Young Team – Black Market Organs – Minimalist versions of some of the work released by him.
Fresh – Cinema Woes – Fresh should stop being this awesome it’s not fair on other bands 🙂
Poverty Bar – Girl Everything / Hungarian Blues – another small limited run split from Poverty Bar.
Queequeg’s Coffin – Daddy – genre busting duo of roasters bringing more noise than your normal four piece.
Seas, Starry – Spooky Witch – Spooooooky Halloween tunes from the Aberdonian post-rock crew.
Shhe – Eyes Shut – first release I heard by Shhe.
Soot Sprite – Sharp Tongue – Another fine indie/punk release from Specialist Subject.
The Specials – 10 Commandments / You’re Wondering Now – 7″ from RSD featuring Saffiyah Khan.
Stöj Snak / Speed Dinosaurs – The Mass Extinction Split – new split 7″ which follows on in style from Screamer Songwriter
Spoke Too Soon – Your Own Creation – pretty cool emo record from a band I found at BYAF.
Too Slow / Min Diesel – Split 7″ – small release indie/punk split 7s are a classic of the genre. Worth getting if you can find it.

Various – Boombox 45 (Early Independent Hip Hop, Electro And Disco Rap 1979-82) – Soul Jazz knocking it out the park again with this collection of early hip hop singles.

Music still in the ‘to listen’ pile

It’s been tough keeping up with what I’ve got this year and tons still hasn’t been listened to yet.
Gang Starr – One Of The Best Yet – gave this a quick listen when it was first online and it was great. On my second physical copy, neither of which plays right on my set up but do on others. Guess I need to spend some time figuring out what is wrong.
Aidan Moffat & RM Hubbert – Cut To Black

Other Music I discovered

I normally do a list of older stuff I found, but I got a wee bit more than usual including massive amounts of hip hop from Le Freak and a huge emo/hardcore collection from Grouchos. So lets skip that…

Discogs

Carried on submitting and editing tons on Discogs. I got copies of Great Scots Musicography and Rip It Up to help with sourcing info too.

Music goals for 2019

Sort out my CD singles. I need to rip as MP3, sort them out and then clear out the unwanted/duplicates. – barely scratched the surface.
Sort through CD Album collection. This is all ripped now but a large part is unsorted. I need to sort, sell off and pack up the bulk of it. – most packed up, but not sorted.
Finish listening to and sorting my 7″s. – made a slight dent in before I bought more 12s…
In 2018 I finished off a couple of artists collections so I will probably identify a couple more and try to find the missing pieces of their catalogue over the course of the year. – tried to finish off Motormark but one was hard to find, and one got lost in the French postal system for months.

20 Jun

YouTube Channels Worth Watching

For anyone who has ever watched a video on YouTube, you may have noticed a bizarre effect. Every video seems to be 6 steps away from some reactionary and right-wing one pushing fascism, reactionary ideas, rants about feminazis or just flat out racism and conspiracy theories.

There have been some investigations into this and I’ve read anecdotal accounts of fresh installs of browsers already recommending these videos.

There has however been a counter-movement to these which goes by the terms Lefttube/Breadtube. I have watched some of the videos and some are great. I think the only things I had previously found were very academic and just videos of lectures

I recently found this Playlist of LeftTube videos created by Bryan Zwei. It follows a theme and includes a variety of different presenters with a mixture of styles. SO I thought it might be useful to give a rundown of what they do and what I’d recommend. I’ll go by order they appear in this list and then add in any others I know of or would recommend at the end.

Xexizy

Intro from this series: Generic Arguments Against Communism Refuted
Style and theme: Can be quite academic and dry, a student in a bedroom with a headset on so lower production values than some others that will come up. Haven’t watched enough of this channel to recommend a whole lot.

Philosophy Tube

Intro from this series: What Was Liberalism? #1 Ideology & Violence
Style and theme: After seeing the cuts inflicted Abigail decided to give away what she had learned from her Philisophy degree. It started off with little bite size chunks of knowledge about philosophers or theories and then later developed into well produced longer pieces on a variety of topics of politics, or what was happening recently in the news, i.e. Brexit. Because of that it veers from an even-handed approach of giving all sides of an argument, weighing up all the sides and just pointing out why a position is wrong.
Best video/series: Basically the intro to philosophy/philosopher X stuff is definitely where to start, just start at the beginning skipping things which you aren’t interested in. Definitely one of the best youtubers out there.
Others I’d recommend: What is Color? & Who Cares? is a great explanation of why people see colours differently. The series on Liberalism which is in this playlist is great. Why Does Britain Still Have A Queen? both for discussing monarchism, the bursts of humour and a line which probably made me wake my neighbours up with a laugh when I watched it.

anarchopac

Intro from this series: Marx and Engels Were Not Egalitarians
Style and theme: Another quite dry academic topic coverer. Definitely worth it if you want to learn that stuff without poring over 150 year old books.

Red Plateaus

Intro from this series: Marx on Human Development
Style and theme: A really accessible overview of basic Marxist theory. To date there’s only one other video on the channel.

ContraPoints

Intro from this series: What’s Wrong with Capitalism (Part 1)
Style and theme: the Queen of YouTube with great production, spots of humour and skits playing as different characters. Using a lot of the language and terms of those who are at risk of being drawn to the right the channel makes genuine attempts to show them the error of their ways. Highly recommended.
Best video/series: Jordan Peterson a great takedown on the nonsense this Kermit the Frog impersonating wanker spouts.

Peter Coffin

Intro from this series: Why Criticize Capitalism?
Style and theme: very American-centric so haven’t watched much, style is very shock-jock-esque so again trying to go for that same market that gets drawn towards fascism and hit the same buttons for entertainment.

Cuck Philosophy

Intro from this series: The Capitalist Realism of Unkle Adams
Style and theme: Similar to the early Philosophy Tube ones, definitely worth watching if you enjoyed those.
Best video/series: The Cultural Significance of Cyberpunk

Mad Blender

Intro from this series: Capitalist Realism, Mental Illness and Societies of Control
Style and theme: nice, honest and down to earth look at some of the basic things we do every day, like buy a thing.

Thought Slime

Intro from this series: Havin’ Fun!
Style and theme: really enjoyable and self-deprecating look at loads of interesting and thought provoking topics from philosophy to current events and popular culture.
Best video/series: GarfieldEats, a normal website in normal capitalism.
Others I’d recommend: We don’t talk about She-Ra Because discussion of He-Man and She-Ra

NonCompete

Intro from this series: Why Socialism? by Albert Einstein
Style and theme: Great visuals and production values. A former anarcho-capitalist turned anarcho-communist. Interesting perspective. Also occasional humorous puppet. Lunas perspective is great too, as someone who grew up in Vietnam just not taking things for granted that Emerican has due to his socialisation. Her utter bemusement that some people oppose LGBT rights etc as it seems completely alien to her.
Best video/series: You say you want a revolution?. Stop what you are doing and go watch it now. Like why are you reading this sentence? I hope it’s because you came back to this tab after watching that video, cos if you carried on reading this that’s wrong.
Others I’d recommend: Was Jesus Christ a Communist? for theology, Capitalism is a friggin’ SCAM that’s making us poor for some theory, and Glue the Horse Gets a Job (and Awakens to Class Consciousness) for puppets.

CGP Grey

Intro from this series: Humans Need Not Apply
Style and theme: the audio takes a bit of time to get used to, but covers a wide variety of topics with introductions to how they work.
Best video/series: The European Union Explained

hbomberguy

Intro from this series: WOKE BRANDS
Style and theme: Harries mixes up humour and great production to talk about gaming and current affairs. Will pause, break the fourth wall and rant and laugh at stupid stuff he is trying to talk about. One of the best you can subscribe to.
Best video/series: SOY BOYS: A MEASURED RESPONSE – making fun of Paul Joseph Watson for being a fucking arse who doesn’t understand what he’s talking about.
Others I’d recommend: HOW TO FIX YOUR RECOMMENDATIONS – ways to address the issue I raised at start of article about bad recommendations. Also DONKEY KONG 64 CHARITY STREAM ON JANUARY 18TH Because fuck Graham Linehan

RE-EDUCATION

Intro from this series: Introduction How to: Revolution Part 1.
Style and theme: popularising anarchism and anarchist theories
Best video/series: My journey From Neo-Nazi To Anarcho-Communist – eye opening video explaining how his socialisation led him to a pretty horrible place and his journey away from it.

Knowing Better

Intro from this series: Privatizing Public Services: Prisons and Schools
Style and theme: Educational series about history, government and politics
Best video/series: How a K Became the UK. Sure some stuff is wrong or shortcutted, but for a 13minute history of the UK it’s better than most quick guides I’ve seen.

PD Morrin

Intro from this series: Drug Prohibition: A History of Control (Part 1 of 3)
Style and theme: Irish Leftist Nonsense

Shaun

Intro from this series: How Privatisation Fails: Railways
Style and theme: Humorous take downs of right-wing theories mainly, or responses to other video series
Best video/series: Paul Joseph Watson is Wrong About: Sports

Innuendo Studios

Intro from this series: The Alt-Right Playbook: Introduction

Style and theme: great video essays about video games culture, the internet and politics
Best video/series: The one in this playlist is fantastic, and one I had watched a while back before I found the list. See also Angry Jack which explains how Gamergate developed.

Libertarian Socialist Rants

Intro from this series: Top 10 US-Backed Atrocities and Authoritarian Regimes
Style and theme: Only watched the videos in this list which were humurous take downs of hypocrisy.

Mexie

Intro from this series: Venezuela: How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Trust the Neocons
Style and theme: educational on recent history.

BadMouseProductions

Intro from this series: Joanna Hausmann is lying about Venezuela
Style and theme: has a disclaimer saying he doesn’t support some ideas he had spoke about in older videos.

T1J

Intro from this series: Is “Civil Debate” Actually Useful?
Style and theme: open-handed and educational.
Best video/series: When Should We Separate Art From the Artist? especially for the R Kelly references.

Three Arrows

Intro from this series: Was Hitler a Socialist? – A Response to Steven Crowder and Others
Style and theme: educational videos about history and politics, normally responding to misinformation being spread by right wing figures
Best video/series: Were the Crusades Defensive? – A Response to Steven Crowder

Eric Taxxon

Intro from this series: The Kunst Saga | How the Right Wing Views Modern Art
Style and theme: music and art, and videos about music and art
Best video/series: pjw what?

Angie Speaks

Intro from this series: Esoteric Fascism | The Occult and the Far Right
Style and theme: music, philosophy and spirituality
Best video/series: The Pagan and Anti-Capitalist History of May Day and Who Are Black Leftists Supposed to Be?

Kat Blaque

Intro from this series: Why is “LeftTube” So White?
Style and theme: only seen this video

Folding Ideas

Intro from this series: Manufactured Discontent and Fortnite
Style and theme: dissecting popular culture

Jim Sterling

Intro from this series: Mortal Kombat Developer Accused Of Abusive 100-Hour Work Weeks
Style and theme: discussing the video games industry

Phew, that’s a lot. A minor note though, between starting and finishing this list it looks like at least one video by a new user was added to that list, which I spotted and added in. So bear in mind the playlist may change (partly why I’m making this post).

Outside of that playlist there’s also others making videos too, one of my favourites has been:

Lindsay Ellis

Style and theme: video essays on critically analysing media
Best video/series: The Hobbit: A Long-Expected Autopsy

Haven’t went through: breadtube channel list yet either, having stumbled upon recently, but definitely worth checking out.

So there you go, a very brief list of some areas of youtube which are worth going to.

13 Jan

2018 In Music

Time for the almost annual and almost end of the year look back at music after 2017 and 2016.

Gigs

Gig wise the only large one I attended was Broken Social Scene in Glasgow. The show was phenomenal, and it was a great to see a band I never thought I would ever see. This tour was for Hug of Thunder, but they played some tracks from You Forgot It In People which is an absolute masterpiece and was my favourite album for a decent period of time.

Book Yer Ane Fest 2018 happened too but I haven’t had a chance to write about it yet. There were local gigs, with far fewer I was able to attend than I hoped.

New Releases

Photo of top Instagram posts of 2018

I had the season tickets for Make That a Take and Specialist Subject, which is the origin of a substantial chunk of these.

This Way Up in Dundee were also a source of a lot of new releases. With a great range of weird and experimental music they are fast becoming a necessary visit when in the area. The Soul Jazz Records compilations they stock are great. I’ve not had a bad one yet, although I don’t buy all of them, obviously, so may be missing stuff I would dislike. Grouchos are still the go-to place for second hand music though, as well as Discogs. I also managed to buy someones hip hop/rnb collection which was mainly 12″s. Still working my way through it but there were some gems in it.

Albums

Art Ensemble Of Chicago ‎– Les Stances À Sophie – Soul Jazz Records brought out a repress of this phenomenal jazz-funk album
awakebutstillinbed ‎– What People Call Low Self​-Esteem Is Really Just Seeing Yourself The Way That Other People See You. Getting this was a total trek. Unfortunately in a foreshadowing of the Brexit shitheap we are heading headlong towards, postage from the US for vinyl is an absolute killer now, as well as import taxes etc. Eventually managed to get via Proper Music, just before SSJ got it in their distro.
The Bombpops ‎– Throw It Back great album by a band who make great music but were slightly underwhelming live with a stage presence which I would be kind in hoping it to be inauthentic.
Capitalist Kids ‎– Brand Damage – great political pop punk – go listen to Brute Farce if you haven’t already. And obviously Socialist Nightmare too.
A Certain Ratio ‎– acr:set great funk/pop influenced records.
Digable Planets ‎– Reachin’ (A New Refutation Of Time And Space) – I hesitated on this for a few months as I had a feint recollection of the band but not enough to pick it up. Then I remembered about it and searched for it, and very quickly had a flash of hearing it years ago and loving it We be reading Marx where I’m from
Don’t Worry ‎– Who Cares Anyway? – Great punk/emo album from SSJ.
MF Doom ‎– MM..Food I remember seeing this back when it and the previous album were out and dismissing them as some comic related rubbish. I was an idiot. When Vinyl Me Please started their Hip Hop line I hoped for some gems to appear and I got this. It looks like it’s still available so I’d recommend grabbing it whilst you can.
Eels ‎– The Deconstruction Pretty weird release being on two 10″ Yellow records but standard fare you will expect. If you like Eels you will like it. If you don’t you won’t, but then, your opinion on music would be objectively wrong so whatever.
ESG ‎– Come Away With ESG another repress, this time of some disco/new wave. I got a couple of their releases this year and all had gubbed download codes. I believe it was some kind of contractual screw up about the digital rights etc, which sucks as end consumer going I’ll buy awkward bulky analogue format because I can get the benefits of digital at the same time.
Frightened Rabbit ‎– The Midnight Organ Fight – repress for the 10th Anniversary which makes even more painful listening now than the period before where I couldn’t listen to it.
Fun Lovin’ Criminals ‎– 100% Colombian repress on white vinyl of the best album by one of the best live bands on the planet. Southside is probably my favourite track on it.
Guru ‎– Jazzmatazz Volume II (The New Reality) – another VMP pressing, the first one I got though, due to the album being utterly amazing. The first Jazzmatazz was good, and Streetsoul had probably the most crossover appeal but in the second one Guru knocked it out the park.
Billie Holiday ‎– At Jazz At The Philharmonic – can’t resist a super rare repress by the greatest singer to ever live.
Kaddish ‎– What World Was Still?. Long awaited album which defines the term long awaited. Third banger from the best band in Dundee. Probably my album of the year if I sat and worked it out.
Lords Of The Underground ‎– Here Come The Lords – another repress of a hard to find 90s debut album by hip hop trio.
Lost Avenue ‎– Fears The band name seemed totally familiar and it’s because I had missed them the year before at BYAF. Brilliant young band from Northern Ireland.
Mastersystem ‎– Dance Music – the final album Scott Hutchison worked on and was released.
Muncie Girls ‎– Fixed Ideals great punk album by a band with a fantastic singer
Neurotic Fiction ‎– Pulp Music – I don’t like publicly saying I don’t like someones music, and have missed some music from this list to avoid doing so. But I’m only doing so for context here to say it’s the only release from Specialist Subject that I have bought over the past 2+ years that I haven’t liked. Which shows the quality of the output they generally release.
The Pharcyde ‎– Labcabincalifornia – repress of one of the classic conscious hip hop albums.
Please, Believe! ‎– .​.​.​In Potential – pseudo placeholder as the vinyl release came out on Hogmanay, but the CD release much earlier in the year. I didn’t make it out to the show and haven’t received my vinyl copy yet. From the CD/mp3 release though it’s pretty great ecossemo as to be expected from anyone who has seen them live. Except with 100% music and 0% banter/tuning.
Poverty Bar ‎– Vive La Bagatelle, this got a physical release due to Western Freeway
Rainer Maria ‎– Past Worn Searching/Look Now Look Again/Long Knives Drawn/Catastrophe Keeps Us Together/A Better Version Of Me. When one of your favourite bands represses almost their entire catalogue in vinyl you must do two things – 1. Buy the ones you are missing and 2. Complain bitterly about US postage charges.
Jeff Rosenstock ‎– POST- – released out of nowhere on January 1st this blew people away immediately as to how good it is. Some people rate it very highly indeed.
Slowlight ‎– The Only Thing I Want Is To Know What I Want– fantastic album which I wrote about earlier.

Spare Snare ‎– ‘Sounds’ – they are the Snare (and Steve Albini).
Tragical History Tour ‎– Aphorisms – outstanding debut album which I previously reviewed.

EPs and other stuff

The Bombpops ‎– Dear Beer – to stress again how good their music is, this is 4 fantastic tracks on a gorgeous gold splatter 7″. I rated it 5/5 on the discogs I’ve listened to this now tracking I’ve been doing. Would highly recommend getting a copy.
Carson Wells ‎– No Relic – great ecossemo as expected from the Aberdonians before they called a hiatus 🙁
Dogeyed ‎– Throw The Bones really weird lofi and sludgy rock

El Morgan And The Divers was blown away by this band playing and look forward to their hopefully delayed and not cancelled album.
Forever Unclean ‎– Woof – great EP from the young Danish band I got to see at BYAF.
Goodbye Blue Monday ‎– Misery​-​Punk Ruined My Life great follow up to their Sickness/Shame EP, hope they aren’t under too much pressure to develop a full length from these.
The Murderburgers ‎– Shitty People And Toothache – Fraser is so lucky to encounter so many fucking areseholes to write songs about.
Nana / Tragical History Tour – Split EP great split including both artists covering each others music.
Pillow Queens ‎– State Of The State great Irish pop punk EP and I look forward to an album by them coming out.
Snow Patrol ‎– Soon – limited pressing only available to readers of The Big Issue
Yndi Halda ‎– A Sun-Coloured Shaker an EP to follow up the surprise release from 2016. I can never tire of this great post-rock band. Their Enjoy Eternal Bliss record is still a hard one to improve upon for me though. By anyone, never mind the band themselves.

Other

Batteries ‎– Last Shop Standing – The Rise, Fall And Rebirth Of The Independent Record Shop – not really my cup of tea, but was bought for the documentary of a great book about record shops.
Various ‎– Boombox 3 (Early Independent Hip Hop, Electro And Disco Rap 1979-83) – third volume exploring early underground hip hop which is well worth a listen but probably has a pretty niche audience of, well, me.
Various ‎– Soul Of A Nation 2 – fantastic compilation containing influences for early hip hop.

Other Music I discovered

3 Colours Red ‎– Revolt – not really discovered, more missed when walking round a record fair and had a friend message asking if I wanted a copy on vinyl. Of the album with Paralyse on it? Hell yes.
Anna’s Anchor ‎– Nautical Miles – great Irish emo album
The Avalanches ‎– Since I Left You – anyone who ever had the joy of attending Coalesce should have developed a healthy love for this band, so was delighted to spot a vinyl copy in This Way Up.
Black Sheep ‎– A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing – this being in the hip hop collection was one of the reasons I bought it. It’s a conscious album although you won’t expect it from the intro, but let it play through, it will all make sense.
Broken Social Scene ‎– Forgiveness Rock Record/Broken Social Scene/You Forgot It In People/Feel Good Lost – when I saw them they had their latest album with them but also their entire catalogue on vinyl too. I am trying to resist replacing most of my CD albums with vinyl but am making exceptions for the bands and albums I absolutely love.
Deftones ‎– Covers – I wasn’t expecting much from this but was pleasantly surprised. Definitely worth a spin.
Delos – Delos – emo and post-hardcore belters. Well worth a listen.
Charles Earland ‎– Coming To You Live – I was confused why Grouchos had two copies of an album at over £10 so checked it out online, snagged a copy and was glad I did. Really good jazz/funk album which is almost 40 years old.
Green Day ‎– Kerplunk! – at a record fair I stumbled across a first pressing of Green Days second album. Underrated and really good. Mostly by people who are wrong about which albums of the band are the best (Insomniac is best as if you don’t know already).
Guru ‎– Jazzmatazz Volume: 1 – I mentioned preferring Volume 2, but when Volume 1 was in a massive sale I had to get it too.
Zach Hill ‎– Astrological Straits Experimental from someone in Death Grips? Sign me up.
Jesus & His Judgemental Father ‎– It Might Get Better – picked up for a criminally cheap price after the band split. I think if I had listened to it last year it may have made it in contention for album of the year.
Jurassic 5 ‎– Quality Control – althought their debut is quite rightly seen as a classic, their follow up is sadly underrated.
Mannequin Pussy ‎– Romantic – Great punk/noise album on TinyEngines.
Milk Teeth ‎– Vile Child – really good mix of emo and grunge
Mountain Men Anonymous/Teflon Monkey ‎– As The Duck Bit Back.. Part One – took the opportunity to complete the small discography from the excellent post-rock band who are sadly missed.
Klaus Weiss ‎– Time Signals – really good experimental album from the 70s which recently had a repress for the first time in 30 years.
Les 2 Minutes De La Haine ‎– Somnolences – really good French punk album which appears to be black ink printed on black paper etc. No idea what the fuck they were thinking, cos it hides a real gem.
Spike Milligan With Jeremy Taylor ‎– An Adult Entertainment Spike Milligan With Jeremy Taylor Live At Cambridge University – I really enjoyed his diaries when a kid so picked up this album. Although some is still great, some has not aged well. At all.
Seas, Starry ‎– Tyto Alba – I bought this from a distro at BYAF, listened to it and thought it was great. Then realised the band were playing the next day! Great post-rock album.
A Tribe Called Quest ‎– People’s Instinctive Travels And The Paths Of Rhythm – a stole cold classic which was one of the highlights of that collection I acquired.
Luther Vandross ‎– The Best Of Luther Vandross – The Best Of Love – I expected this to go from the bought collection very quickly into the sell pile. But I’m keeping it. It’s really surprisingly good.
Various ‎– Black Fire! New Spirits! Radical And Revolutionary Jazz In The U.S.A. 1957 – 1982 – amazing compilation of interesting jazz styles.
Boombox 1 & 2 (Early Independent Hip Hop, Electro And Disco Rap 1979-82/1979-83) – after hearing the third volume I got the first 2 of this early underground hip hop compilation. All really good if you like that sort of thing.
Various ‎– Time As A Color – X – found when adding more records into a discogs order as there was a chunk of postage could be covered. Emo and post-rock compilation which is exceptionally good.
No Artist ‎– The Investigator – really good 1950s radio play about McCarthyism, I mean totally not about McCarthyism at all.

Books

Vinyl Junkies: Adventures in Record Collecting by Brett Milano – interesting book interviewing record collectors about how and why they collect. I think I read it around the same time I watched this sad journey.
Last Shop Standing: Whatever Happened to Record Shops? by Graham Jones – really good book interviewing music shop owners about the changes in the music retail industry over the past few decades and their predictions for its future. Although it does start to get a bit stylistically repetitive and forced towards the end. Currently making its way round various others who worked in music retail.

Discogs

I continued to submit and edit on discogs, reaching the status where I could vote on submissions too. Having my collection catalogued has helped when browsing to avoid duplicates. I also as part of working through that hip hop collection made a pile of items to sell off. I then ran through vinyl finding everything I had rated poorly or had no intention of listening to again. I worked my way though listening to all my 12″s, and was starting on the 7″s before getting that huge pile of singles and so now have a 12″ backlog again.

Music goals for 2019

Sort out my CD singles. I need to rip as MP3, sort them out and then clear out the unwanted/duplicates.
Sort through CD Album collection. This is all ripped now but a large part is unsorted. I need to sort, sell off and pack up the bulk of it.
Finish listening to and sorting my 7″s.
In 2018 I finished off a couple of artists collections so I will probably identify a couple more and try to find the missing pieces of their catalogue over the course of the year.

19 Nov

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05 May

Aphorisms by Tragical History Tour

Aphorisms is the full LP debut by Derrick Johnston of Make-That-A-Take Records, and countless bands with numerous other releases behind his belt. Ten tracks of heartfelt raw emotion and experience which is undersold by the modest title.

Its a great record, but I’ve delayed being able to write about it and I’m not sure why. Normally when I first hear an album by a band it’s either completely new or there’s a couple of tracks I’ve heard a few times. There are some new tracks on it, but others were on previously released EPs, or had just been being performed solo for so long, and I’ve heard so many times that it causes a jar to hear as a full band recorded. And I know no one reads this blog but I still try and write stuff that’s for people other than me. I don’t know what the experience of someone sitting down and hearing these tracks for the first time will be, but I know that the handful of us who have been to tons of shows in Dundee may have a different experience.

1. Fight For Light

The record opens with Derrick singing acousticly with his distinctive voice. I remember him describing it, but can’t remember the term, maybe polyphonic overtones? I dunno enough about music to know, all I know is his gruff vocals are pretty unmatched.

A wonderful story, presumably about some grandparent or older family friend who was a positive influence on him during a troubled part of his life, and now reminiscing about their loss and the promises made to them.

When I never had a home
You were my place to go.

2. Come On Home, Hero

A song released last year about the Brexit shambles

screaming “we want out!”
without thought or doubt

This is one of those songs I really like, but have heard live solo more than recorded so there’s a nag at the back of my head that is sounds off. But it’s great nonetheless and I can see myself listening to it, certainly of the next year as we raise towards the abyss of ignorance and futility ahead.

3. Old Words

The title track of an EP, it’s yet another great song, and I think the same as the previous recorded version released. Just raw emotion and love poured out into a track, head and shoulders above other similar themes by anyone I can remember hearing in a long time.

4. Three Two

A track I first heard performed by The Uniforms and absolutely loved. The line Tired? I’m exhausted. Sanity?I think we lost it somewhere between California and Colorado Springs. blows my mind every time. The rhyming structure and where the line breaks are, the pause and the tone change are just delightful. It’s surprisingly upbeat for a song about a self-destructive lifestyle trying to cover up internal unhappiness.

5. What Would Vinnie Mac Do?

Another song perfected by a fantastic rhyming structure. This is the kind of track that made it difficult to write about the album. Just listen to it. The contrast of the guitar, the song and the lyrics is just overwhelming and make it difficult to find the words to express the feelings it stirs up.

6. Pink Couch

Another (old to me) tune. I’m assuming a story about visiting some variety of therapist. Maybe because it isn’t new for me I just feel out of sorts not hearing this with a crowd singing along to the chorus. I’ve spoken before of how I don’t listen to music by a new band before I go see them as the live and recorded experience is so different and this is maybe one way I understand it. This song is good to listen to as an MP3 or on a record, but it is amazing to be in a crowd singing along to it. Both are great experiences, but it’s hard to separate the two and for me to love the recorded solo experience as much as the live communal one.

7. It’s Cool, I’ve Got This

The LP has been broken into three parts, the first of the hurt and pain, Pink Couch is acknowledging and trying to deal with it and this track is the start of the turn-around. Getting his life sorted out.

8. My Little Ray Of Sunshine

A great number, and the lyrics can be read as a number of different people in different roles, there’s a bunch of layers there and it will take some more listens to try and zone in on my preferred interpretation.

9. No Advice

Probably the highlight of the entire album. Amazing live, amazing recorded. The chorus of

But if you ask me,
I’ll tell you everything.
I won’t walk away.
You are never alone.

is just beautiful.

10. The Final Intervention

The final and longest track on the album is fantastic. Maybe about the ignorance of climate change? There’s too many things it can be about but it seems to fit best. Ending the track and album with a spoken word monologue of hope and looking to the future. transformation is real.

Overall

I’ve known Derrick for at least 15 years, maybe more and so it’s hard to listen to this album and hear the pain and suffering he has been through poured out into it in such a raw form. The narrative structure of the record helps, by starting in the past, a middle break of an understanding of the pain and then looking to the future, concluding with the positive message at the end.

But having stood watching Derrick and numerous members of the crowd with tears welling up in the corner of their eyes during some of these songs makes it a hard album to listen to. The rollercoaster of emotions you will experience every time mean you have to be in a good mindset to even throw it on or the stories with low points will drag you right down with it. And if the biggest downside of an album is it’s so well written and performed it will have an emotional impact on you, then that’s gotta be worth a listen right?

Parental Advisory: Emotional Trauma and Hearbreak.

You have three options with the record, buy online as a download, or as CD or LP which come with the download code too. The LP also came with a fanzine/interview which was great including some old photos and the like and a pile of other material you can usually find on the Distro stand. Can’t say for sure what you get with the CD though, except a promise of cool free shit and what more could you ask for?

10 Apr

Anti Social-Media

I first went on the internet over 20 years ago. At the time the way you connected with people was via email directly or on bulletin boards and forums more publicly.

I really enjoyed it, little micro-groups of interested fowk, with moderation and blocking, and ability to separate interests by different sites. More importantly everything was decentralised.

Then along came social media sites. Bebo, Myspace, Facebook and many more which fell before they gained that level or popularity.

Slowly these disparate communities started to die, either through competition, or turnover as people moved on and new members were not being brought in due to a preference for the ease of a centralised Facebook.

I resisted Facebook for years, eventually caving into having an account so I could manage a Page. But even still I tried to keep it very locked down, everything as private as I could have it, and creating post audiences, and only adding people I genuinely knew. One of the only other things pushing me there was the number of gigs I had missed because promoters had only been promoting them on Facebook and nowhere else I could have seen them.

A few years ago I paused and took a look at the way I was using social media.

In the meantime I caved even further, eroded by comments from friends that I didn’t use it like others, was overly paranoid and so on.

I took a conscious decision to try to navigate it like others, post more, tag more photos of myself etc.

In early 2017 I again paused and took stock. Annoyed by reports of abuse of privacy, Facebook snooping on other web cookies and so on. Constantly having to review privacy settings as they changed repeatedly, always making info more public by default than it had been so.

I took some steps to disconnect Facebook.

Firstly I found all applications I had used a Facebook account as a sign-in mechanism for and de-authorised them, and set up a normal account to them if still needed. I had been interested in experiencing OAuth etc, but the closeness and sharing of data between various applications and Facebook had made me uneasy. The smaller numbers of accounts had seemed positive in the light of the number of password leaks and the like, but using strong unique passwords seems a better strategy than re-using Facebook for everything.

Secondly I de-authorised all apps that were using Facebook. There were only a handful, but I had tried a few to see what the deal was with games on the platform, some I hadn’t used in years etc.

Thirdly I did my almost annual review of friends list. Unfollowing people who posted too frequently or posted content I wasn’t interested in, unfriending those I hadn’t seen in years and couldn’t see me spending time with them again in the near future – former flatmates of friends I’d lost touch with and the like.

Fourthly, I’ve become unsettled at the, admittedly few, times I attempted to post a link to something online on twitter, facebook, or send through a messaging app and this failed, with others reporting failures with that specific link.

After doing this I intended to delete my Account completely. But I then found out that you still needed an Account to use the messenger application. As this was the sole way I kept in touch with a number of friends, it became one of only two things keeping me on it – that and gig information.

What I then did was start isolating Facebook to only use in a separate browser on it’s own. This is bonkers.

After reviewing a bunch of info about Cambridge Analytica and the like I had to pause again. One of my goals is to reduce the time I spend on social media overall. By reducing the amount of things I follow, hopefully the proportion of items I am genuinely interested in will increase.

I’m also concerned that a default bored behaviour is to pick up an application and scan pages of content. I have books on these same portable devices. If I have downtime or am waiting 10 minutes on something running I have something more interesting to do instead.

Facebook

I’ve taken shears to it.

Photos I was tagged in that weren’t owned by me? Untagged. The number of them which were on pages of people I haven’t seen in 5, 10 years was amazing. Facebook also made it very difficult. Some photos you could just Remove Tag, others you had to go through several menus in a Modal pop-up. I tried unliking a Page and re-liking it and tags were still there.

I was even more forceful with unfollowing. I can’t remember before unfriending family members – but second cousins I haven’t spoken to in real life for 15 years and wouldn’t recognise if I walked past in the street? Removed. People I haven’t seen in years and just post photos of a child I have never met – removed. This is no criticism of these people, just a reflection of my real relationship to them. We aren’t close friends sharing every detail of our life, why are we like that online?

I also scrubbed a large amount of data or made it visible to Only Me.

Next I intend to review my posts and likes and history and try to remove as much as possible. I’ve removed the application from my mobile devices – leaving the messenger app – and intend to just check every so often in a browser. I intend to massively reduce time spent on it to the bare minimum.

I would genuinely encourage others to do the same thing. Untag all the things. Unfriend/unfollow all the distant acquaintances etc.

Twitter

My Twitter is locked down and private, but I follow hundreds of accounts. The application makes it difficult to review these, having to do in a browser but I found Twitter accounts which had been inactive for 9 years which I still followed. Accounts of people I knew who have died. These will all be unfollowed, and then I will start to review who is following me.

LinkedIn

I have kept this as a professional network, adding people I know in real life or have worked with. I am not pro-active at all on it, and don’t even have a profile picture.

Google+

I have deleted my Google+ account. It was a bit of a damp squib.

Instagram

I reviewed who I was following, and removed those who I never see and post things I am not interested in – one was just pages of selfies in the same angle etc. Again, not a reflection on the individuals, just trying to minimise time on social media. I post almost nothing but photos of comics, records and gigs. Even if someone I know is a really close friend and has no interest in this, I would take no offence if they unfollowed me on it.

Snapchat

I’ve never really got this application. Before the awful redesign there were two pages. One where you could see stories and one messages? I think. I never really understood it. All I know is you would sometimes see the same message twice and have stories autoplay after you watched one.

So through all this, apologies to anyone who has taken offence or been upset by removal, feel free to reach out and connect with me if so. I was genuinely trying to just remove those I haven’t connected with in a long time and could sometimes be a bit over-zealous.

Luddite

I jest because a personal bugbear is people who use Luddite as a term without understanding who the Luddites were and that it’s not really an insult to me.

I’m not averse to using data to document aspects of my life, but I try to weigh them as things where I get a massive amount of free value out of them too instead of a company solely selling my data.

One of the reasons is to reduce the amount of unnecessary duplicate purchases I make in the things I actually consume.

On Goodreads I log books I am reading and intend to go through my entire collection logging my read/to-read pile.

On CLZ I log all my comics and graphic novels, again to spot gaps in story arcs.

On Deckbox I log my Magic cards collection, to keep an own/wants list.

On Discogs I log my music collection, keep a wants list to help complete collections, and try to document local bands and musicians.

But there is an element of concern in the negative aspects of social media.

The way people publicly document details of their life that the Stasi would only dream of.

The way they invite an ever wider circle into accessing ever more details documented.

The ways privacy is eroded through applications trying to access more and more data, whether they genuinely need it to function or not.

The ways privacy is eroded from repeated policy overhauls and more of the data being set to be more public by default and the access to fix these settings is hidden.

There is also the social change. Language and Culture are in a feedback loop and how we interact with each other has changed for the worse. How many times have you bumped into someone you haven’t seen in a while and instead of asking what they have been up to you comment on some detail of their life you know they have been doing? Instead of Wow you have a new job it’s what’s the new job like? instead of where have you been? it’s cool photo of that monument in tourist city. It’s unsettling.

Reduce Social Media, Increase Social Interaction.

Fewer Friends Lists, More Friends.

Reduce Wall Reading, Increase Quantity and Quality of Conversation.

31 Mar

Slowlight ‎– The Only Thing I Want Is To Know What I Want

I’ve been on a bit of an emo kick lately. Probably fuelled by Rainer Maria reforming and then discovering the excellent Save Ends.

At Book Yer Ane Fest 2016 one of the best new bands I saw was Glasgows Slowlight. I got their EP and played it a lot, liking Repeat The Pattern especially.

Then in 2017 they returned and promised an album. Originally only available digitally via a download code in a zine, they have pressed a number of copies for their tour and released it on their bandcamp page.

And it’s a cracking album, probably leading contender for album of the year for me, unless a certain local band can ever skip the queue ahead of the record store day arses clogging up the plants.

Full Of Empty

Track one kicks in immediately and has the paired male/female vocals which makes this music sound so awesome. A sort of sung homage to the opening to Trainspotting with a long list of processes and things you probably want to have in your life, “A place to call your own, a close knit group of friends”.

The Only Thing I Want Is To Know What I Want

The title track pulls it back and slows down with few lyrics that repeat for maybe a couple of times too many in the almost 6 minutes it lasts, and feels more like it could have (should have?) been the opening track to be honest.

Blackout

Sounding more like something you’d hear in 1996, which certainly is a plus for me, with lyrics more like that you’d hear when the doomsday clock was closest to midnight, which is a sad indictment that we haven’t moved too far from the Reagen era. That you can’t pinpoint where in the world this is written about A town left destroyed overnight. Take cover, then discover we’ll never recover.

Prison

A screeching post-hardcore song is the perfect follow on to Blackout. With vocals which reminded me of Mhari Mushroom from Eat Yer Greens.

Cucumber

Respite arrives with Cucumber, peppered with I assume the partner and child of the vocalist in the band based on credit listing. Reminded me of Esperis Seasons Album. And I do enjoy the occasional song that probably can’t be performed live.

Pretend For Real

Probably the best song on the album, and closest to the EP, let’s just pretend for real. Haunting lyrics which can be interpreted in a number of ways, none telling of a great situation.

Strange Shapes

A return to the dual vocals. It’s striking that this is the first time there’s been a second song so far where a large chunk of the song is in a similar style to a previous one. Whether this shows that they haven’t settled on a style they prefer or are just happy experimenting and throwing out a bunch of great songs, either is good.

Turn The Knife

The OCD-record collector in me notes that the lyrics in the booklet are attributed to a second entry of Strange Shapes, so maybe this will be a first pressing, future rarity value, grab it now etc :). I’m not dead but I don’t feel alive, you turned the knife has to be among the emo-est of emo lyrics. Every line is superb.

Let’s Plagiarise!

A song with a tune so good, I’d happily listen to the instrumental with an almost sludgy rhythm. But the vocals above it help to speed it up and give it a faster tempo come the chorus. With a few samples thrown in, I wonder what the Morse Code message is?

Tiger Science

The final track is an ode to optimism, ending with is this real or is this just a dream? Or maybe both?.

I was really impressed with it, even following on from their excellent EP. Maybe it’s because I’m currently going through listening to old records again, but one of the first things which appealed to me was the packaging of physical music. So many random good (and bad) acts I found from the thanks/inspired by sections of liner notes. This has both and mentions a bunch of fowk I know and bands I love. A thanks to Warped alumni Phil Morton, and appeals for you to listen to Terrafraid, Stonethrower and The Kimberly Steaks and calling out Book Yer Ane Fest are the kind of posi things we need in the compact scene.

With a physical copy to be had for less than a tenner, and digital for Name Your Price, there’s no excuse not to pick it up.

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